On this day at the 2003 World Cup in Centurion in South Africa, Sachin Tendulkar scored a memorable 98 to guide the country to yet another victory against arch-rivals Pakistan. Team India had beaten Pakistan in their three previous World Cup encounters – 1992, 1996 and 1999. The Men in Green were desperate to win this round but the Indian batting legend had other plans.
India won the toss in that group stage match and elected to bowl first. Pakistan started the game and a century from their opener Saeed Anwar (101 from 126balls), cameos from Mohammad Yousuf (25 off 42 deliveries), Younis Khan (32 off 36 balls) and Rashid Latif (29 not out from 25 deliveries) helped them reach a formidable 273/7 in their 50 overs.
Chasing the total, India had their task cut out as they had to face Pakistan’s fearsome pace bowling attack in the form of skipper Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis and Shoaib Akhtar. But when Tendulkar walked with opener Virender Sehwag, he shows what he had in his mind in the first over. After watching a couple of deliveries, Tendulkar punched Akram’s third ball for a boundary. The very next over further defined the mindset of the Master Blaster, who cut the fastest bowler in the world, Shoaib Akhtar for a six over third man before timing him for two more boundaries.
Sehwag was also in a menacing mood at the other end, he added 21off14 deliveries before departing. India soon reached their 50 in the sixth over. Indian captain Sourav Ganguly went back with a golden duck, but the Indian batting machine did not let up after being dropped at 30. He put on a batting masterclass, smashing boundaries and fighting cramps to score a blistering 98 runs off 75 balls.
It was during this knock that he stitched a 102-run partnership for the third-wicket with Mohammed Kaif and also went past the 12,000 ODI run milestone. His iconic 98 included 12 fours and an equally famous six that had set the momentum.
Post his departure, Rahul Dravid and Yuvraj Singh made a 99-run stand for the fifth-wicket and concluded the game with six wickets in hand and 26ballsremaining. India defeated Pakistan in a World Cup match for the fourth time in a row and Tendulkar was the man behind it.