On National Sports Day in India, Sachin Tendulkar granted the wishes of a million fans who wanted to see him return to bat. Tendulkar put on gloves and picked up the willow to share a jaw-dropping video of him playing some delicious cricket shots during an indoor session. With a stickerless bat, Tendulkar nearly rolled back the years producing a range of strokes that promises to bring back memories of a 1998 Sachin peak that dominated bowlers left, right and center.
The video editing had it all. The back foot punch and straight ride, the kicks, the pull ups, the exquisite top cover ride and to top it all off the top cut. While it was a tennis ball that Tendulkar was up against, the sound he made from the start should be music to any Sachin fan’s ears. “It’s #NationalSportsDay and how could I not play the sport I love and have dedicated my life to. Share your photos/videos playing your favorite sport,” he tweeted.
The year 1998 was when Tendulkar at his ruthless best. It was statistically his best year. There was no T20 at the time, but some of the rounds he played would have been the perfect brand ambassador for the format which was still a few years away from its debut. Tendulkar tallied a staggering 2,541 runs over 42 innings and was posting a combined average of 68.67 to go with a 93.69 strike rate and nine hundred ODIs.
What made the year even more special for Tendulkar was that he was at his best against the team everyone wanted to beat, Australia. Against the Aussies, Tendulkar averaged a stunning 88.71 in ODI and 111.50 in Tests. Of the 12 centuries Tendulkar hammered that year, six of them came against Australia – the famous twin centuries (143 and 134) in Sharjah, 141 in Dhaka, 155 in Chennai, 100 in Kanpur and 177 in Bengaluru.
Tendulkar’s next best year was 2010, when he became the first striker to score an ODI double ton against South Africa. He scored hundreds in Chittagong, Mirpur, Kolkata, Colombo, Bangalore, Centurion and Johannesburg in 2010 but 1998 remains special for all Tendulkar fans as it was the year Tendulkar managed to beat Nirvana.