This day, that year: When Tendulkar's 'Desert Storm' destroyed Australia in Sharjah

Tendulkar played one of the greatest ODI innings of all time against Australia at Sharjah


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Sachin Tendulkar was too good for the Shane Warne-led Australian bowling attack. (ICC photo)
Sachin Tendulkar was too good for the Shane Warne-led Australian bowling attack. (ICC photo)

Published: Fri 22 Apr 2022, 4:07 PM

On this day in 1998, legendary Indian batsman Sachin Tendulkar played one of the greatest ODI innings of all time against Australia at Sharjah, unleashing what is known as the ‘Desert Storm’ on the lethal Aussie bowling attack featuring Shane Warne, Michael Kasprowicz and Damien Fleming.

“Desert storm in Sharjah! On this day in 1998, the world witnessed one of Sachin Tendulkar’s greatest innings as he smashed an incredible 143 against Australia,” tweeted ICC.

The match was played as a part of the Coca-Cola Cup, a triangular series between India, Australia, and New Zealand.

Before this match, India had won just one out of their three games, and New Zealand had won only one out of their four games and looked pretty much out of the tournament, clinging on to net run rate as their last hope.

Australia had earned a place in the finals after winning all of their three matches.

The match was extremely important for India, as it could use a victory to seal their position as Australia’s opponents in the final.

In case of a loss, the net run rate could have ruined the Men in Blue’s chances at gaining the trophy.

Electing to bat, the Australians 284 for 7 in 50 overs, thanks a brilliant hundred from Michael Bevan (101) and a fine 81 from Mark Waugh.

Chasing 285, India lost Saurav Ganguly for 17 at the score of 38 in the ninth over of the game.

Tendulkar and wicketkeeper-batsman Nayan Mongia stabilised the innings before Mongia fell for 35 in the 22nd over of the game when the score was 107.

Tendulkar looked in good touch, going after everyone in Australia’s bowling attack. A sandstorm disrupted India’s efforts for around 25 minutes, with the target being revised to 276 in 46 overs.

But if the sandstorm had disrupted the game, Sachin had unleashed a storm of his own that threatened to sweep away Australia’s chances at the match.

No one was spared. Kasprowicz was hit for sixes that still live in the minds of millions, 24 years later. The match also marked one of the many face-offs the master had with late Shane Warne, with the batter getting better of the legendary Australian leg-spinner on this particular day.

Tendulkar looked unstoppable, with India 242/4 in 42.5 overs, with just 34 required in 19 deliveries and a victory was in sight for India.

A miracle followed as pacer Damien Fleming got Tendulkar at the final ball of the over, taking the scoreline to 242/5 in 43. with India needing 34 in 18 balls. Tendulkar went back to the pavilion scoring a 131-ball 143, with 9 fours and 5 sixes.

But the rest of the Indian batters, Ajay Jadeja (1), VVS Laxman (23*), Hrishikesh Kanitkar (5*) could not carry the momentum Tendulkar had given to his side, accumulating only eight off next three overs, finishing at 250/5 in 46 overs, which meant a 26-run loss.

Tendulkar, immortalised as a deity by millions of his fans, indeed worked in a mysterious way and had the last laugh that day.

If Australia could sweep the points table with four successive wins, even India got their chance to fight the mighty Aussies for the Coca-Cola Trophy as his 143 off 131 boosted India’s net run rate, giving them an edge over the Kiwis.

An uptick in net-run rate gave India a place in the finals of the competition.

The final took place on 24th of April, Tendulkar’s 25th birthday. The match saw Australia make 272/9 in their 50 overs. Another Tendulkar Special followed on his birthday, as his 134 off 131 deliveries helped India chase down the target in 48.3 overs and get their hands on the Coca-Cola Cup.

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