Sachin Tendulkar, Sharjah, India vs Australia, Coca Cola Cup – If you had to accumulate all these into one or maybe two words keeping their essence intact then you perhaps won’t find anything better than ‘Desert Storm’. On April 22, 1998 at Sharjah the desert storm came twice – First time literally, forcing the Australian fielders and India batsmen to rush to the dressing room and secondly from Sachin Tendulkar’s bat. Still regarded as one of Tendulkar’s best knocks by many, albeit in a losing cause, the 143-run innings against Australia is part of cricketing history.
And like many things in history, Sachin’s innings that night which took India to the final of the tri-series based on net run rate, has a lot of stories attached to it, some revolving around Tendulkar’s tactics of taking the attack to the Australians, some about his mindset, some on the talks in the Indian dressing room during the break. But one fact remained common – The way Sachin decimated the Australian attack comprising Damien Fleming, Michael Kapsprowicz, Shane Warne and Tom Moody.
Sachin’s knock may have been the finest he had played but that didn’t guarantee him a hero’s welcome when he returned home. He, in fact received a mouthful from his brother Ajit Tendulkar.
22 years since that fateful day in Sharjah, Sachin narrated how his screams at teammate VVS Laxman during the chase did not go down well with his brother.
India were chasing 285 for victory but the stoppage in play caused by the desert storm meant India received a revised target of 276 with 4 overs less. Sachin was batting with a young Laxman when all this took place and the little master revealed how the desperation of winning the match and take India to the finals had even got to him.
“I remember that a couple of times by emotions came out and I ended up shouting at Laxman ‘Run two, it’s my call why aren’t you running?” Sachin said on Star Sports show Cricket Connected.
Sachin and Laxman had put together 104 runs for the fifth wicket before Tendulkar fell for 143 off 131 balls.
“I received a scolding from my brother as soon as I reached home. He told me ‘these sort of things shouldn’t happen in the ground. He’s your teammate, he’s also playing for the team. It’s not your match alone; he’s also playing with you. I got a bit of a hiding at home,” Sachin added.
Laxman remained unbeaten on 23 off 34 balls and India managed 250 for 5 in 46 overs ending up losing the match by 26 runs but qualified for the finals on the basis of net run rate.
“In my mind, I always wanted to win that game and qualify to the finals as a victorious team because I knew it might play a mental role. There is difference if you just qualify and when you qualify by beating them. So there the mind games start and obviously my first attempt was to win that game and if and when it was not possible then the second thought was always to qualify and try and beat then in the finals but that was the whole idea,” Sachin said.
Sachin would go on to smash another hundred in the final against Australia a night later to help India win the title.