It was the biggest match of the 2003 World Cup between India and Pakistan at Centurion in South Africa. India had beaten Pakistan in their three previous World Cup encounters – in 1992, 1996 and 1999. Pakistan were desperate to set the record straight. But India were relentless! A strong Pakistan unit led by the great Waqar Younis elected to bat first and were given a fine start by Saeed Anwar and Taufeeq Umar. Pakistan lost the wickets of Abdul Razzaq and Inzamam-ul-Haq in quick succession and were reduced to 98 for 3 after 22 overs. Anwar stood firm at one end and was playing the lone hand for Pakistan. Useful contributions from Younis Khan and Rashid Latif took Pakistan to 273 for 7 in 50 overs. Zaheer was the pick of the Indian bowlers picking two wickets for 46 runs in his 10 overs.
1st March, 2003. Sachin made it 4 out of 4 vs Pakistan in WC
Pakistan had a formidable bowling line-up led by skipper Waqar Younis, Wasim Akram and Shoaib Akhtar. India had their task cut out. But they had a man named Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar! He made his intentions clear from the third ball of the innings itself caressing Akram through covers for a boundary. The next over defined the mood and mindset of Tendulkar on the day – he cut the fastest bowler in the world, Shoaib Akhtar for a six over third man before timing him for two delectable boundaries. India were away!
Virender Sehwag was also in a menacing mood at the other end and played a little cameo before departing for 21 off just 14 deliveries. Waqar made it two in two deliveries as he removed the Indian captain, Sourav Ganguly leg before wicket for a golden duck. India were on the backfoot and needed their golden boy to perform. And he did not disappoint!
Tendulkar continued to attack and found an ideal partner in Mohammad Kaif. He soon registered his fifty off just 37 deliveries The pair added 102 for the third-wicket of which Kaif’s contribution was 35 off 60 deliveries. Tendulkar got out his A-Game at Centurion when it mattered most against India’s biggest rivals in a high pressure World Cup match against the best fast bowling unit in the world – that defined his genius. By the time he was dismissed for a scintillating 98 off just 75 deliveries, which included 12 fours and a six, India had scored 177 in just the 28th over. Tendulkar had scored 55% of his team’s runs at a phenomenal rate before he exited.
Rahul Dravid and Yuvraj Singh put together an undefeated 99-run stand for the fifth-wicket to take India through with six wickets in hand and 26 balls remaining. India had again beaten their arch-rivals in a World Cup match – for the fourth time in a row. And their hero today was Sachin Tendulkar.