The most celebrated and revered cricketer in Indian history Sachin Tendulkar turns 47 today. The Master Blaster retired from cricket in late 2013 but the fanfare for him hasn't yet died. On his birthday, there is again a flood of reminiscences and tributes celebrating the greatness of the man who scored 100 international centuries.
However, it is also true that the Indian media, especially the electronic branch, has done to death the celebration of some of his greatest achievements. The 'Desert Storm' and the upper-cut off the bowling of Shoaib Akhtar in the 2003 World Cup have been discussed ad nauseum. This obsession with just a few of Sachin's great moments has gone well beyond the limit of saturation.
So, here, in International Business Times, India, we are going to celebrate the Little Master's birthday in a different manner. We are going to look at five of the most majestic shots of Sachin's career that are not remembered as they should be. These strokes show the unmatched brilliance of the master batsman and does so more emphatically than the fabled upper-cut.
Pull shot against Patrick Patterson of West Indies (1992)
Patrick Patterson isn't remembered as among the greatest West Indian bowlers but he is regarded by many, including former teammates, as being faster than most others. In 1992, Sachin Tendulkar had the opportunity, while still being a teenager, to measure himself against this rapidly quick speedster from the West Indian pace factory.
In a match played between their two teams in Australia on January 11 of that year, Sachin took on Patterson with a shot that few could manage against a bowler of that pace. The West Indian bowled a back-of-a-length rising delivery at Tendulkar. The Indian legend just pressed forward but then transferred his weight onto the backfoot and swiveled smoothly to pull the ball over the top of the in-field to the boundary. That shot showed the world how capable this young kid was.
Flick shot against West Indies in the 1996 World Cup
Think of the leg-side flick and immediately the mind conjures up the names of VVS Laxman and Mohammad Azharuddin. But in a match against the West Indies in the 1996 World Cup, Sachin played a unique variety of this shot which was as exquisite as any.
Against a back-of-a-length delivery outside the off stump – not the type against which a flick shot is normally played – Tendulkar used a diagonal bat to turn the ball through midwicket to the boundary. Another example of the unparalleled excellence of Sachin.
Back-foot cover drive off Mervyn Dillon in Barbados (1997)
In 1997, Sachin was the captain of Indian team during their tour to West Indies. One of the five Tests of that series was played on a very spicy wicket in Barbados, which is anyway the fastest surface in the Caribbean.
Sachin played a wonderful innings of 92 in India's first innings which came at a critical juncture in the match. The most memorable shot of that innings was a backfoot cover drive off Mervyn Dillon. It came against a back-of-a-length (again) delivery, just outside the off-stump, which Tendulkar dealt with most stylishly. Another stroke of genius from the great man.
On-drive against Shoaib Akhtar in 2003 World Cup
As we mentioned at the top, the famous upper-cut against Shoaib Akhtar in the 2003 World Cup is spoken about endlessly. But the best shot of the innings is one which came two balls after that. It was a backfoot on-drive on the last ball of that over.
It was a very fast delivery from Akhtar that was directed at Sachin's pads. Since it was just back-of-a-length (seems to be a theme in this list), Tendulkar kept his weight on the backfoot and, seemingly, just tapped the ball. It raced to the boundary past the mid-on fielder.
The upper-cut was played against a poor delivery and could be executed by many other batsmen. But this kind of majestic on-drive can only be played by Sachin.
Hook off Dale Steyn in 2011 World Cup
Sachin kept taking on the best bowlers in the World till the end of his career. In the 2011 World Cup, when India faced South Africa, Sachin decided to go after Dale Steyn, the greatest fast bowler in the world at the time, and the best bowler of this generation.
The best shot of the innings was a hook that he played off a Steyn delivery that was clocked at 141.3 kph. What differentiates the pull from the hook is usually the height of the delivery. This ball was a good bouncer that came up to shoulder height. Tendulkar had no difficulty in dispatching it over the ropes for six.
To control a delivery of this pace and height is difficult. To hit it for six is a feat that requires ability that only those in the rare class that Sachin belongs to possess.