On Monday, April 24, legendary cricketer Sachin Tendulkar will celebrate his 50th birthday. Prior to the birthday of the legendary batsman, former India spinner Harbhajan Singh reminisced about his time spent with Tendulkar in the Indian national team. Throughout his tenure, Tendulkar’s performance at the 2003 ODI World Cup was one of his finest.
He opened the innings for India and concluded as the tournament’s leading run scorer, earning him the prestigious Player of the Tournament award. Harbhajan Singh revealed that the Master Blaster did not bat in the nets for the duration of the entire tournament, which was a startling fact from the colossal event.
“To comprehend Sachin Tendulkar’s brilliance, one small anecdote will suffice. Paaji did not bat in the frames for even a single day during the entire 2003 World Cup in South Africa. The Indian bowling unit performed admirably, but none of Javagal Srinath, Ashish Nehra, Zaheer Khan, Anil Kumble, or myself bowled to him in the nets during the tournament, as Harbhajan was cited as saying last week.
During the World Cup, the legendary cricketer broke his own record for the most runs scored in a single ODI World Cup (523 runs in 1996) by accumulating 673 runs in 11 innings at an average of 61.18 with 106 fifties.
During the tournament, he played one of the most memorable innings of his career, scoring 98 off 75 deliveries against Pakistan. Tendulkar’s innings enabled India to chase down a 274-run target against Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis, and Shohaib Akhtar.
The innings against Pakistan is one of Harbhajan’s favorites, along with the twin hundreds he scored against Australia in Sharjah in 1998.
“Yes, he has 49 ODI hundreds, but those two knocks in Sharjah and the 98 he scored against Pakistan at Centurion are three knocks I will never forget.” In 1998, 275 was equivalent to 350, and in a 2003 World Cup game, 270 or more was considered a par score. Harbhajan added that pursuing a high-stakes game requires a distinct mentality.
In 1998, Tendulkar struck a brilliant 134 against Australia on his birthday.
Tony Greig, a former England cricketer and commentator, referred to Tendulkar as “the closest thing to Bradman that has ever existed” because of his hundreds at Sharjah. On April 22, 1998, the most prolific batter in ODI cricket hit 143 off 131 deliveries against Australia to help India reach the final of the Coca-Cola Cup. The innings is famously known as the ‘Desert Storm’ knock because a sandstorm struck Sharjah while he was batting.
On his birthday, Tendulkar scored a second hundred against Australia in the final, completing his innings with 134 runs off 131 deliveries, 12 fours, and three sixes. This magnificent hit enabled the Indian team win the Coca-Cola Cup.
Harbhajan’s message for the legend on his 50th birthday was, “Pray for a long, healthy life and continue to inspire us as you always have.”