Batting great Sachin Tendulkar today recalled how a mongoose proved to be good omen for India in their sensational last-over win in the semifinal of Hero Cup here way back in 1993.
South Africa buckled under pressure as Tendulkar, bowling the final over with only six runs needed, scripted a memorable victory for his side at the Eden Gardens.
“I don’t know how many of you have noticed this but because it was the first day and night match, there was a mongoose which kept coming in the second half of the match,” Tendulkar, who is the face of IDBI Federal Life Insurance Kolkata Full Marathon, said on the eve of the race.
“We got some wickets when it came. Then there were some runs and again the mongoose came and we got wickets. So I was waiting for the mongoose to keep coming. The match got rather close and I ended up bowling the last over.”
Tendulkar had failed with the bat but skipper Mohammad Azharuddin gave him the task to bowl the last over.
It was a gamble that paid off and still remembered fondly as Tendulkar bowled three dot balls to Allan Donald preceded by a runout and Brian McMillan failed to get a boundary off the last delivery with the crowd buzzing from behind.
“When in Kolkata we used to have a joke running around –‘Pehle do wicket lelo, baki ke aath wickets crowd le leta hai’ (first take the first two wickets, the crowd will look after the rest).”
Singling out the Hero Cup semi-final on November 24, 1993 as one of his best moments at Eden Gardens, he said: “It was quite memorable and completely different, the first day-and-night match where I ended up bowling the last over.
“The experience to see the entire stadium lit with torches was truly out of this world. They stay with you for the rest of your life.”
Tendulkar also remembered the epoch-making 1991 series against South Africa that saw their return to international cricket from isolation after two decades. The first match of the three-ODI series saw a sellout crowd of about one lakh.
“There has been so many memories when it comes to Kolkata. The first big moment for me was when we played against South Africa, who were getting back to the International cricket.
“We had a spectacular match, Donald had a fiery spell up front but we got a partnership going and ended up winning the game. All in all, the experience was overwhelming not just for South Africa but also for me,” Tendulkar, who jointly got the Man-of-the-Match award with Donald for his 73-ball 62 in their three-wicket win on November 10, 1991, said.
He also recollected the reception after both the teams landed at the airport.
“It was incredible, not just inside the stadium but the moment they landed at the airport. On their way to the hotel there were people standing and cheering on both sides of the road.
“I later spoke to (then captain) Clive Rice who was double my age that time and he still fondly recalled that series,” he signed off.