Sachin Tendulkar may not have played a lot of domestic cricket owing to his international commitments, but left a lasting impression whenever he did. As a youngster, he announced his arrival with a century on Ranji Trophy debut and then inspired Mumbai to a few titles with stellar performances as an established senior. His final hurrah single-handedly pulled Mumbai from the depths of despair to a fairy-tale win in a high-pressure game over Haryana in what was the maestro’s farewell Ranji innings on Wednesday with an unbeaten 79.
Tendulkar’s 11 gems in Indian domestic cricket:
1. 233 not out vs Tamil Nadu, Ranji Trophy Semi-Final, April 11-15 2000
This is one knock Tendulkar’s Mumbai teammates will never forget. In the Ranji Trophy semis of the 1999-2000 season, Mumbai faced a strong Tamil Nadu, who batted first and put up 485 on the board. The pressure was on Mumbai to overhaul that huge challenge and take the vital first-innings lead. Things looked iffy for them when they were 141 for four at the end of Day Two — Tendulkar batting on 34. Paras Mhambrey and Jatin Paranjape — who played that game — told CricketCountry that Tendulkar was determined and had told his teammates that they would win the game. The next day he turned it on and single-handedly took on the Tamil Nadu bowlers. At 449 for eight, it looked like Mumbai would not cross the line, but Tendulkar rallied the last two men and single-handedly took Mumba to 490. The last two men didn’t score a run in those stands. Mhambrey and Paranjpe also recall Tendulkar finding the boundaries even when Tamil Nadu had placed nine men on the boundary.
2. 96 vs Haryana, Ranji Trophy final, May 3-7 1991
In a thriller, Tendulkar and Dilip Vengsarkar pulled off an unlikely run-chase to win the title for Mumbai. Chasing a mammoth 355 for the Trophy, Mumbai were in a spot of bother at 34 for three — when Tendulkar joined Vengsarkar in the middle. Being the “Khadoos” Mumbai cricketers, they started fighting — to get their side back in the game. They were battling an attack comprising Kapil Dev and Chetan Sharma and the equation was clearly against them. Tendulkar played fluently and the duo put up 134 — 96 of which were scored by the Master Blaster. However, he was dismissed off a full-toss and Vengsarkar continued the fight. Mumbai fell agonisingly short as the last man was run-out three runs shy off the total.
3. 103 not out vs Delhi, Irani Trophy, November 3-7 1989
This was the knock that opened the gates of the Indian team for the 16-year old Tendulkar. In his first year in domestic cricket, it was known that he was destined for greater things and his selection for the Rest of India side for the Irani Trophy was a step in that direction. In the fourth innings, Rest needed 555 to win against a formidable Delhi attack that comprised of Sanjeev Sharma, Kirti Azad, Madan Lal, Maninder Singh and Atul Wassan. Tendulkar had to make a statement while dealing with this international quality attack even as the other Rest of India batsmen faltered. Wickets fell at regular intervals and he waged his solitary battle. The result was a foregone conclusion, but a hundred was in sight. Such was the anticipation and the excitement that Raj Singh Dungarpur ordered an injured Gursharan Singh to go in as the last man so that Tendulkar could complete a century. A week down the line, Tendulkar donned the Test cap. And the rest, as they say, is history. For a detailed description of this knock, read this article by H Natarajan.
4. 105 vs Bengal, Ranji Trophy final, February 2-5 2007
Being an established pro at the highest level, Tendulkar never found it tough returning to domestic cricket. However, playing the final is always a task and Tendulkar was up to it when Mumbai faced Bengal in February 2007. The Bengal seamers were getting movement off the wicket in the first session on Day One and Mumbai lost two men with only 14 on the board. Mhambrey, who was the Bengal coach then, recalls Tendulkar negotiating that period with great skill - a session that setup the game for Mumbai. The Master batsman then went on to score 105 in only 129 balls. Mumbai romped home to another title.
5. 204 not out vs Australia, Australia’s tour to India, February 24-26 1998
Tendulkar has often had memorable battles against the Aussies at the highest level, but this one was in the Mumbai clothing. In the three-day tour game prior to the Test series, Tendulkar sounded the war-cry with an attacking display — intent on demoralising the opposition. A certain Shane Warne was his target and he smashed his 204 at faster than a run-a-ball. Such was the effect of that knock that the domestic side went on to beat the formidable Australians. The tourists were given a glimpse of what was to come.
6. 139 vs India Green, Challenger Trophy, October 2 2006
The Challenger Trophy came to life with Tendulkar putting up a sparkling display for India Blue against India Green. It was an innings during which he showed little or no trouble and it looked all too easy for him. He lofted the bowlers with ease and hit boundaries almost at will. Lakshmipathy Balaji, Ashish Nehra, Praveen Kumar and Piyush Chawla were given a taste of his mastery and they would have considered themselves lucky that they only got to bowl at him in the nets. Tendulkar had faced 100 deliveries for his 139 — a knock that contained 20 fours and four sixes. India Blue plundered 381 and won by a huge margin of 266 runs.
7. 120 not out vs Gujarat, Ranji Trophy, December 10-12 1988
Tendulkar announced his arrival in Indian cricket with a fantastic century on Ranji Trophy debut. The 15-year old wasn’t intimidated by the setting and seamlessly made the transition to a higher level with a performance that assured the public of his talent. Lalchand Rajput — the Bombay captain for that game — told CricketCountry in an interview, “Tendulkar looked very special despite his age. Once he went in to bat, all eyes were on him. The press, the cricketing fraternity – all wanted to see him. He started off slowly and understandably so as there is always pressure on debut. But, once he got into the 20s – it looked like he was playing his 20th Ranji Trophy game.”
8. 159 vs East Zone, Duleep Trophy, January 11-15 1991
With this hundred in his first Duleep Trophy game — Tendulkar recorded a rare feat — scoring tons on debuts of each of the major First-Class domestic competitions in India. In the Duleep Trophy game against East Zone in 1991, Tendulkar smashed 159 and rallied his team to 604. During the innings, he surpassed his previous First-Class best of 119.
9. 128 vs Hyderabad, Ranji Trophy final, April 19-23, 2000
Following the heroics in the Semi-Final against Tamil Nadu, Tendulkar was geared up for a challenge in the final. He scored 53 in the first innings and Mumbai had taken a huge lead when they bundled out the opposition cheaply. In the second innings, Mumbai wanted to put the match out of Hyderabad’s reach and Tendulkar rose to the occasion with 128. Hyderabad never recovered and Mumbai won yet another title.
10. 140 and 139 vs Punjab, Ranji Trophy final, March 27-31 1995
Yet another title in Mumbai’s bag and it was Tendulkar again who joined the party. In many ways, he symbolised Mumbai’s dominance in this game as he scored hundreds in both the innings. In the first innings, four batsmen scored centuries for Bombay and amassed 690. In the second innings, they had a huge lead, but Tendulkar scored 139 to heighten the joy for Bombay.
11. 79 vs Haryana, Ranji Trophy, October 27-30
All those years after that hundred on debut, Tendulkar was at it again in his final game for Mumbai. On a seaming track at Lahli, Mumbai were 87 for two chasing 240 when he walked out to bat. Holding fort at one end, he watched wickets fall at the other as Mumbai were reduced to 190 for six. The game was in the balance and the old warrior had moved past 50. Hopes rested on his shoulders again. It was an emotional time as the Mumbai players wanted to win the game for him and the Haryana troops had saluted him as he walked to the centre. The Master couldn’t afford to lose his concentration and calmly took Mumbai past the finish line with four wickets in hand.
(Nishad Pai Vaidya is a Correspondent with CricketCountry and an analyst, anchor and voice-over artist for the site's YouTube Channel. He shot to fame by spotting a wrong replay during IPL4 which resulted in Sachin Tendulkar's dismissal. His insights on the game have come in for high praise from cerebral former cricketers. He has also participated on live TV talk-shows on cricket. Nishad can be followed on Twitter at @nishad_44)
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