Throwback: Sachin Tendulkar’s 241* at the SCG
Great Sportsmen have the ability to adapt, they thrive on challenges and mould their game to suit the situation. They are made of steel like resolve and have the passion and fire burning inside them to succeed. That is precisely why they are kept at a higher pedestal that ordinary mortals cannot fathom.
These are men that provide moments that don’t fade away from the mind, they bewitch you and hold you captive, and you can recall their great performances even many, many years later.
One such masterclass unfolded in the year 2004 from the willow of a man named Sachin Tendulkar. Coming into the 4th and final Test match of the series at the iconic Sydney Cricket Ground, the master batsman had been in poor form. Some critics had even started questioning his technique, and probably Tendulkar too had a point to prove to himself.
If ever there was an innings that can be taken as a case study for discipline and self-control, it was the 241* that Tendulkar conjured at the SCG. Batting for over 10 hours facing 436 balls against the likes of Brett Lee and Nathan Bracken, Tendulkar refused to play his bread and meat shot- the cover drive through the off side because it had proven to be his downfall on previous occasions.
So, the master virtually ‘let go’ of all the balls that swung out at the start of his innings. It would have tempted him so much, but Tendulkar was made of steely resolve. The Australians might have even cracked a few jokes at his expense, but Tendulkar was immune to all this having played at the international level for so long.
And then, the master slowly opened up. The ball pitched on off stump and moving away was whipped through mid-wicket for four, Brett Lee’s vicious out swingers outside off stump were driven with finesse down the ground. Stuart MacGill was pulled and cut to lethal effect. The Aussies threw everything at their arsenal, but Tendulkar did not budge.
The master batsman hit a total of 33 fours during this epic, took India to a mammoth 705/7. By the end of his knock, the Australian crowd was at its feet as he walked back unconquered at the crease after conjuring a magnificent double hundred on Australian soil.
In the many classics that Tendulkar played throughout his illustrious career, this gem will surely rank as one of his very best. It is knocks like these that sets the great players apart from the merely good ones.