On 9 September 1994, Sachin Tendulkar hit 110 against Australia in Colombo – it was the first of his 49 ODI centuries and it had been a long time coming.
Tendulkar made his ODI debut in 1989 and was earmarked for greatness. It was always a question of when and not if the boy from Bombay would start piling up the records. He had started showing his class in Test cricket already. He had all the shots in the book but, early on, perhaps he batted too low down the order in ODIs to get to the three-figure in an era when run-rates were a fraction of what they are today. A good ODI total in those days was 250... a great one was 280 and even 230 could be considered as competitive.
But on March 27, 1994, things changed. It was the day Tendulkar opened the innings in a One-Day International for the first time in his career. It was his 70th ODI and he managed to score a sublime 82 off 49 balls against New Zealand at Eden Park in Auckland.
That set the ball rolling and after that knock, everyone knew that his first ODI century was only a matter of time. When it arrived, Tendulkar had already scored seven Test centuries and was in his 79th ODI as an Indian cricketer.
The milestone was finally reached during the third match of the Singer World Series. It was against a classy Australian bowling line-up that included Craig McDermott, Glenn McGrath, Shane Warne, Tim May and Steve Waugh. And the 100th run, perhaps fittingly, was scored off Warne’s bowling.
Tendulkar opened the innings with Manoj Prabhakar after India elected to bat first. The duo put on 87 runs with Prabhakar contributing 20 of them before he was dismissed.
Tendulkar's ODI centuries by calendar year
Prabhakar’s 20 runs had come off 41 and he had robbed the innings of some momentum but Sidhu and Tendulkar set about scoring at a quicker rate.
The innings flowed smoothly as the other batsmen were able to bat around Tendulkar. Sidhu scored 24 (32), Mohammad Azharuddin 31 (30) and Vinod Kambli worked his way to 41 (43).
Still, it was Tendulkar that controlled things magnificently. He kept his strike rate in the 80s by judging the ones and twos to perfection. His knock contained just 8 fours and 2 sixes. And off Warne’s bowling, Tendulkar and Kambli scampered through for two and the rest as they say is history.
It turned out to be a century in the winning cause as Australia were bowled out for 215 in response to India’s total of 246/8. A 31-run win for India and the player-of-the-match award for Tendulkar.
According to ESPNCricinfo, after waiting so long for his first, the longest stretch without an ODI century was 36 innings between 2007 and 2008. And even during that period, he was dismissed for 99 thrice.
The batsman from Mumbai went on to smash 48 more hundreds in the format before his retirement. He also scored 51 centuries in the Test format, becoming the only cricketer to record 100 tons in international cricket, a record which still stands.
And boy, did he love batting against the Aussies. The best side in the world for most of Tendulkar’s career almost always brought the best out of him. And no batsman in the history of the game has scored more international runs against one opponent than Tendulkar has against Australia. Tendulkar also scored nine ODI centuries against Australia, the most in his career against an opposition. And only Virat Kohli has matched him there internationally (the current Indian captain has scored nine against West Indies) for most ODI centuries against one team.
Most runs (all formats) against one opponent
|SR Tendulkar (INDIA)||Australia||110||144||6707||20|
|SR Tendulkar (INDIA)||SL||109||116||5108||17|
|DG Bradman (AUS)||England||37||63||5028||19|
|KC Sangakkara (SL)||Pakistan||89||108||4885||12|
|AR Border (AUS)||England||90||124||4850||8|
|RT Ponting (AUS)||India||89||111||4795||14|
|BC Lara (ICC/WI)||Australia||82||108||4714||12|
|DPMD Jayawardene (SL)||India||110||117||4563||10|
|DL Haynes (WI)||Australia||97||123||4495||11|
More than anything, Tendulkar’s greatness was perhaps most magnified at the ODI level and this innings that kickstarted a journey of many more scintillating centuries.
You can watch the innings that set Tendulkar’s record ODI 100s tally rolling below: