On May 23, 1999, Sachin Tendulkar scored one of the most emotional centuries of his international cricket career. Facing Kenya in a group stage match of the ODI World Cup in England, the Indian batting legend showed great resilience to score a hundred just days after the death of his father.
India had started the World Cup with a loss to South Africa and were keen to get their campaign back on track in their next two matches against Zimbabwe and Kenya. However, on the eve of the game versus Zimbabwe, Tendulkar received the news of his father’s death and had to rush back to India.
With their premier batsman away, India suffered another defeat and were on the brink of being knocked out of the tournament. Tendulkar, though, decided to fly back to England after attending his father’s funeral and ended up playing a match-winning knock for his team.
Batting first at the County Ground in Bristol, India were 92/2 in 20.5 overs. Tendulkar then made his way out to the middle and received loud cheers from the crowd which realised how difficult the moment was for the then 26-year-old.
The right-hander got his first boundary with a trademark straight-drive and buckled down to stitch an unbeaten partnership of 237 runs with Rahul Dravid (104 not out off 109 balls). India finished with 329/2 in their 50 overs, with Tendulkar unbeaten on 140 off 101 balls (16 fours and three sixes).
India then restricted Kenya to 235/7 in 50 overs to earn a comfortable 94-run victory. The player of the match was, of course, Tendulkar.
“After spending four days in India, I returned to England to rejoin the team on the eve of the match against Kenya,” Tendulkar wrote in his autobiography Playing It My Way. “That, it seemed to me, was what my father would have wanted me to do, and that’s what prompted the decision to return to London to play the remaining World Cup matches. Though I managed to score a hundred in the match against Kenya – which remains one of my most cherished centuries, one I dedicated to my father – my mind was not always on the game.”
Watch highlights of that unforgettable century by Tendulkar here: