India, over the years, haven’t had a lot of joy at the Sydney Cricket Ground. Out of the 12 Test matches that India have played at the venue, they’ve won only once. That victory came way back in 1978.
It wasn’t until 1986, that an Indian batsman scored a century at the ground and it was as recently as 2004, that an Indian batsman managed to score two centuries at the SCG.
Like most batting records in Indian cricket, this one too was achieved by Sachin Tendulkar. With his famous 241 not out in 2004, he became the first Indian batsman to score more than one hundred at Sydney.
While that knock has gone down as one of Tendulkar’s very best, his first century at SCG – which also happened to be his first in Australia – was an absolute gem.
Only 18 at that time, Tendulkar had already made a name for himself with some gutsy knocks against fierce bowling attacks. He had a hundred to his name that had come in testing conditions in Manchester in 1990.
But facing Australia in their own backyard is always a different kind of challenge for any batsman.
“It was a very important stage of my cricketing life. Australia was something special. Once you score runs in England and Australia people in the world come to know about you, about what you have done,” Tendulkar told Sportstar in an interview in 2002.
The teenager felt the challenge in the first two games as he only managed scores of 16, 7, 15 and 40 in his first four innings Down Under. With India losing both games, it didn’t make it any easier for Tendulkar.
But India started well in the third Test at Sydney, bowling out Australia for 313 in their first innings. Ravi Shastri then laid the platform for a strong Indian reply but kept losing partners at the other end. With India at 202/4, Tendulkar walked in to bat, with a determination to make it count.
“After the first two games, I hung in there with Ravi (he scored a double) and was mentally prepared to make a big effort,” he added.
Tendulkar stitched a 196-run stand with Shastri to put India in a strong position. And even when Shastri departed, Tendulkar held the innings together adding another 86 runs with the tail.
He remained unbeaten on 148 as India were bowled out for 483. It was an innings where Tendulkar’s skills were on full show. He smashed 14 boundaries in his knock that came in a fairly quick time.
Incidentally, the game also marked the debut for Shane Warne, who conceded 150 runs in his 45 overs and picked up just one wicket.
It was an innings that truly transformed Tendulkar and gave him the belief that he could make it big.
“They were top-class bowlers and I had grown up watching them. From being a ball boy in 1987-88, suddenly in 1991-92, I was playing against them. I knew that once I was out there competing, no one was going to look at my age,” Tendulkar said in a video posted on his YouTube channel.
“They were going to do all possible things to get me out, to send me back to the dressing room. And I was ready to face those challenges. That particular tour changed me as a player. It taught me a lot. Not just technically, but mentally… how to approach a big game.”
Tendulkar followed up his hundred at Sydney with another ton at Perth on a challenging pitch and regards it as one of his best-ever centuries to date.
Here’s Tendulkar talking about that special hundred in Perth in 1992:
After that tour, he never really looked back and added 48 Test centuries to his name.
When he hung up his boots in 2013, he owned almost all batting records in international cricket. The foundations of this historic feat were perhaps laid at Sydney in 1992, when he became the youngest-ever batsman to score a century in Australia, a record that he continues to hold till date.
Youngest batsmen to score Test tons in AUS
|SR Tendulkar (INDIA)||148*||298||213||14||0||69.48||2||18y 253d||v Australia||Sydney||2 Jan 1992|
|SR Tendulkar (INDIA)||114||228||161||16||0||70.80||2||18y 283d||v Australia||Perth||1 Feb 1992|
|RN Harvey (AUS)||153||250||251||12||0||60.95||1||19y 121d||v India||Melbourne||6 Feb 1948|
|A Jackson (AUS)||164||318||331||15||0||49.54||2||19y 149d||v England||Adelaide||1 Feb 1929|
|AB Barath (WI)||104||178||138||19||0||75.36||3||19y 226d||v Australia||Brisbane||26 Nov 2009|
Watch the full highlights of Tendulkar’s first century in Australia below: