Due respect to Saeed Anwar, but from the minute Zimbabwe’s Charles Coventry equalled his world record ODI score of 194 against Bangladesh, someone needed to go past it.
That someone was Sachin Tendulkar. There are some pretty ordinary batsmen making big scores these days, but Sachin is not one of them. 200 not out is never a bad knock, but in a one-day international, it’s unique. South Africa were given a profound hiding.
Tendulkar lost his technique somewhere around 160 as his body started to cave in, but he didn’t let it stop him. He didn’t even let it slow him. He manipulated his calf muscles and punched himself in the back, trying to physically persuade his body into working order. The grimaces said that he wasn’t succeeding.
After passing the 194, Tendulkar found himself on 199 for what seemed like an age as Mahendra Dhoni monopolised the strike and repeatedly hit sixes. Given a ball to face in the last over, the crowd noise went up to 11. Tendulkar was sufficiently unarsed by the significance of the moment to take his chance and everyone saluted the finest one-day international batsman there’s ever been.