Sachin Tendulkar arrived at the crease in the World Cup clash at Sydney in 1992. Despite the presence of other stalwarts in the team, Moin felt it prudent to alert leggie Mushtaq Ahmed about the benefits Pakistan would reap if they dismiss the then 18-year-old Tendulkar early. That Pakistan couldn’t and Tendulkar scored a match-winning 54, is mere statistic. What was more revealing was the attention he commanded even at such a young age.
Circa Centurion 2003, a raging Tendulkar was making a mockery of a sizeable target of 274 and a potent Pakistan bowling attack, en route to a regal 98. The knock wasn’t without alarms though. While on 46, Akram deceived Tendulkar with a slower ball and the batsman checked his drive but Abdul Razzaq at mid-off jumped too late and dropped the catch. “B*****d, tereko pata hai batsmen kaun hai,” was Akram’s furious response to Razzaq.
Twelve years and three World Cups later, Tendulkar remained the man to get.
After graduating from a middle-order batsman to opening in ODIs, he was breaking records out of habit and had become the biggest scalp for bowlers and India’s pulse. A Tendulkar ton had the potential to prompt even the most corrupt babu to work without accepting a bribe!
His legend though had started to gain root just before the 1996 World Cup came to the sub-continent for the second time. Tendulkar had just signed a $10million deal with World Tel. In the World Cup, he justified the hype and the billing, scoring the tournament’s highest run tally (523 runs in 7 matches).
India’s dependence on him was growing. And no where was it more prominent than in the semifinals .