Watch: The mesmerising 1998 Madras duel between Tendulkar and Warne won emphatically by the Little Master
Watch: The 1997/98 series was set up as a duel between Sachin Tendulkar and Shane Warne. Tendulkar won the first round, in Madras, as did India.
As the build-up for Tendulkar versus Warne intensified, the Mumbaikar prepared himself: “His biggest strength was the drift he managed to get, which meant that the batsman was somewhat blinded by the delivery if he was batting with a traditional side-on stance”.
Tendulkar decided on a slightly open-chested stance, and a guard slightly outside leg-stump. He also planned to play Warne as late as possible, if needed with the horizontal bat.
To prepare for Warne, he practised against Sairaj Bahutule, Nilesh Kulkarni, and L Sivaramakrishnan. All of them bowled on the rough outside leg-stump. When Australia played a tour match against Bombay, Tendulkar turned up. He made 204 in 192 balls as Warne finished with 0-111 in 16 overs.
The stage was set. In the first innings, Tendulkar hit an off-drive of Warne for four, but was caught at slip when he attempted a near-encore without adding to his score. India were bowled out for 257 as Warne claimed 4-85. Australia then secured a 71-run lead. First set to Warne.
The deficit had been erased by the time Tendulkar walked out on the fourth morning, at 115-2. He began slowly before cutting Warne twice, then taking on debutant off-spinner Gavin Robertson. Most of these shots were cuts and pulls, played from deep inside the crease.
He raced to fifty, off 84 balls, by lunch. In the second session, Warne switched to round the wicket. He bowled into the rough – exactly what Tendulkar had prepared himself for. Out came the sweeps and pulls, almost all of them in perfect control, played through mid-wicket.
When Warne pitched short, Tendulkar simply cut from in front of the wicket through the vacant off-side field. After a while, he began to take on the fast bowlers as well. He went past a hundred and then 150, and came off the ground only when Mohammad Azharuddin declared the innings, setting Australia 348.
Tendulkar remained unbeaten on a 191-ball 155, with with 14 fours and four sixes. As he left the ground, everyone – including the Australian fielders – applauded.
Warne finished with 1-122. Australia collapsed for 168 against Anil Kumble (4-46) and Venkatapathy Raju (3-31).
Watch Sachin Tendulkar’s counterattack against Shane Warne here: