Watch: Sachin Tendulkar ‘hard slashes’ Shoaib Akhtar for iconic six in one of the all-time great World Cup knocks
Watch: In a 2003 World Cup match in Centurion, Sachin Tendulkar slashed Shoaib Akhtar for six en route to his iconic 98 that helped India beat Pakistan.
SuperSport Park was full long before the much-awaited contest. In a stadium where the crowd cheer almost never subsided, Pakistan rode on Saeed Anwar’s 101 to post 273-7.
The target was steep, and Tendulkar switched himself off in the innings break. Out came the headphones as he tried to work himself into “the right frame of mind”.
Meanwhile, he got ready, fortified himself with a large bowl of icecream and a banana, and asked a teammate to inform him when the umpires strode out. By the time he walked out, he informed Virender Sehwag that he would take strike first ball.
Throughout his career, Tendulkar had opened batting 340 times in ODIs: this was one of only 47 instances where he faced the first ball of the innings.
Tendulkar and Sehwag hit a four each in the first over, bowled by Wasim Akram. At the other end, Shoaib, despite a couple of wides, kept Tendulkar quiet for three balls.
Then came the fourth legal delivery, short and wide outside off-stump: “I sighted the ball early and within a fraction of a second had made up my mind to go over third man. It wasn’t exactly the upper cut but more of a hard slash over the third-man fielder that sailed over the boundary,” Tendulkar recollected in Playing It My Way.
Later that year, ESPN-Star Sports would honour the shot as Sports Moment of the Year.
Tendulkar followed the six with two fours, and went on to make 98 off 75 balls. Suffering from cramps, he opted for a runner, and Shoaib had his revenge not too long afterwards, getting Tendulkar with a bouncer.
India were 177-4 at this point, but Tendulkar’s masterpiece had ensured their asking rate was well below five an over. Rahul Dravid (44 not out) and Yuvraj Singh (50 not out) saw India home with more than four overs to spare. Shoaib finished with 1-72 from 10 overs.