New Delhi: Sachin Tendulkar has produced many memorable ODI knocks during his illustrious career. It still is a gargantuan task to choose his greatest knock, but the Master Blaster would often described his 98 off 75 balls against Pakistan in the 2003 Cricket World Cup as one of his best.
Against a bowling attack involving Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis, Shoaib Akhtar and Shahid Afridi, India needed a solid foundation for a successful chase of 274-run target at SuperSport Park in Centurion on that fateful day in March, 2003.
But the lynch-pin of Indian batting line-up not only laid a solid foundation but also demoralised the Pakistan attack to such an attack that India cantered to an easy six-wicket win over their arch-rivals with 26 balls remaining in that Pool A match.
He, along with partner Virender Sehwag, posted a 53-run opening wicket stand in just 5.4 overs. But two wickets, those of Sehwag and skipper Sourav Ganguly, in two balls by Waqar Younis put India in a spot of bother.
But Tendulkar and Mohammed Kaif weathered the Pakistan storm with a 102-run stand in 15.5 overs. India won the match with Rahul Dravid and Yuvraj Singh putting up an unbeaten 99-run stand for the fifth wicket, and kept the perfect World Cup record against Pakistan intact.
During the course of his 75-ball knock, Tendulkar hit 12 fours and six. Many considered that six, off the bowling of Shoiab Akhtar, the “shot of the tournament".
Sharing the new ball with veteran Akram, Akhtar was expected to dominate the Indian legend with his pace. But by the fourth ball in the second over, Tendulkar proved why he is the master.
Akhtar banged the fourth ball short and wide, and Tendulkar, instead of it letting go, lashed on the ball with such ferocity that the ball sailed over the backward point. It did the damaged, and the Rawalpindi Express ended up leaking 18 runs in that over, with two more fours coming off the next two balls.
The sight of a airborne Tendulkar taking the beast mode said it all. And he spared none of the Pakistan bowlers. Here's the VIDEO:
Tendulkar failed to make a century, falling to Akhtar off the fourth ball of the 28th over with two runs short of yet another hundred. But he had done his work.