When Sachin Tendulkar unleashed his ‘desert storm’, Suresh Raina skipped school to watch it
It was April, the summer of 1998, 1 pm in the afternoon. Two kids, Sonu and Amit, were rather anxious in the classroom of their school in Muradnagar, Uttar Pradesh. “Tendulkar ki batting dekhni hai (want to see Tendulkar bat),” they muttered to each other. India were to take on Australia in the Coca Cola Cup in Sharjah. A place in the final was at stake. The clock was ticking towards the game’s start time. Sonu and Amit couldn’t wait any longer. They sneaked out of the school, skipping the last two classes of the day.
The scene at Sunil bhaiya’s house was set. He had a black and white TV, but more importantly a welcoming heart, access to cable TV, and Star Sports on it. The kebabs sponsored by Jamil bhai were waiting to enter the fry pan. Preparations were on, and the stage was almost set for Tendulkar to entertain someone who, 13 years later, went on to win the World Cup as a team-mate of Sachin’s. The 12-year-old Sonu who bunked school was Indian cricketer Suresh Raina.
“We had TV at home, an Uptron, but with only Doordarshan on it,” recalled Raina in a chat with Timesofindia.com.
India weren’t having a great time in the tri-nation series, which was also incidentally the first series in a decade in Sharjah, that didn’t feature Pakistan. The matches were played in a round-robin format, with all teams playing the others twice each. Australia won all four league-stage encounters, while India and New Zealand won one each. India pipped the Kiwis on net run rate to enter the final against the Aussies. Sachin was the biggest architect of India’s passage to the final.
Tendulkar’s 131 ball 143 in the second league match against Australia to take India into the final went on to become not just one of his best ODI innings but also arguably the most entertaining highlights package in 50-over format.
The knock was christened ‘ Desert Storm’, also thanks to a sandstorm that halted India’s charge with Tendulkar and VVS Laxman at the crease. Upon resumption, Tendulkar tore into the Aussie bowling attack to help India qualify for the final, even though the Men in Blue lost the match by 26 runs according to the Duckworth-Lewis method, but Sachin was adjudged the ‘Man of the Match’.
Courtesy : TOI