India v Pakistan classics: Tendulkar conquers Centurion

Sachin TendulkarNEW DELHI: Sunday’s ICC Champions Trophy final at Edgbaston will be the first between India and Pakistan since 2008, and the first time the two storied rivals will clash at the summit of an ICC-organised ODI event. Prior to this, the only times they have met in an ICC final was the 2007 World Twenty20, when MS Dhoni’s fledgling team won an epic in Johannesburg.

Ahead of Sunday’s blockbuster, TOI Sports recaps some India v Pakistan ODI classics. In our second instalment, we look back at March 1, 2003 when India beat Pakistan in the World Cup.

The pinnacle of Sachin Tendulkar‘s amazing World Cup run was Centurion, in the cauldron of an India-Pakistan match.

Tendulkar later recalled how he was hounded by fans a year before this epic match took place, and that how he had not been able to sleep properly for 12 nights leading up. India were chasing a stiff target of 274 after a fine century from Saeed Anwar, and Pakistan had a world-class pace attack.


India v Pakistan


The tone was set in three deliveries of Shoaib Akhtar’s opening over: a cut over third man for six, executed on tip-toes; a wristy clip past square leg for four; and a shuffled on-drive for four more. These three shots sent the crowd into a tizzy and paved the way for a famous victory, one that extended India’s dominance over Pakistan in the World Cup.


“I got a couple of balls to hit, they went nicely off the bat, and things started happening,” was how Tendulkar recalled this innings two years later. “Shoaib bowled short and wide. It was there to be hit, and I hit it well. It went for a six. I thought, this is working well so why not carry on?”


As Wasim Akram recalled afterwards, Akhtar refused to bowl after his first over was belted for 18.


There was no stopping Tendulkar thereafter, not until he cramped up and was dismissed for a splendid 98, fending off a short ball from Shoaib. Yuvraj Singh and Rahul Dravid then finished off the match coolly to hand India their fourth consecutive World Cup win over Pakistan.


This was a match billed as the clash of the tournament – it was the first between India and Pakistan since June 2000 – and it lived up to the hype.

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