Mumbai: When holders India clash with Pakistan in their potentially high-octane campaign opener of the ICC Cricket World Cup on February 15 at the Adelaide Oval, the awe-inspiring Sachin Tendulkar would be conspicuously absent for the first time in a match between the two arch-rivals in the showpiece event.
The batting maestro, who has retired from the game after a glorious 24-year-career, was a constant presence in each of the five contests between the sub-continental giants in cricket’s mega event, picking up three man of the match awards too and stamping his authority on these nerve-wracking contests which had all ended in India’s favour.
Significantly all but one of these victories for India against Pakistan had occurred in the month of March.
Tendulkar made his World Cup debut in 1992 when the mega event was staged in Australia and New Zealand previously and played a very crucial innings of 54 not out, besides picking up the vital wicket of Aamer Sohail, to bag the man of the match award at the Sydney Cricket Ground in India’s victory over Pakistan in their first-ever Cup meeting.
And it was Tendulkar who again stole the show with his vital, albeit chancy, knock of 85 at Mohali four years ago in the semifinal to be adjudged the man of the match for the third time in World Cup contests between the two Asian giants — thus paving the way for India to win the coveted title a few days later by beating Sri Lanka in the final in Mumbai.
In between his first and last appearance against Pakistan in the tournament, Tendulkar made 31 in Bangalore in the quarterfinals in 1996, 45 at Old Trafford, Manchester, in a group game in 1999 after rushing home to attend to his father’s last rites and an unforgettable 98 at Centurion Park in South Africa that enabled India chase down Pakistan’s imposing total.