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The Electronic Telegraph India v Kenya, Group-A
Bryon Butler at Bristol - 23 May 1999

Tendulkar inspired to new heights

India (329-2) bt Kenya (235-7) by 94 runs

At least half the population of India seemed to squeeze into Nevil Road and most carried a message for their main man: ``Sachin the Star'', ``Sachin the Fire'', ``The Typhoon'' and ``Our 007 never misses''. Tendulkar, just back from his father's funeral in India, did his best. Another century, another record.

Tendulkar not only scored 140 not out in 101 balls, his 22nd one-day international hundred, but batted with such bravura and wit that Kenya's bowlers must have felt their hammering was both a pleasure and a privilege. ``A century,'' said Tendulkar, ``which I dedicate to my father. It meant something very special to me.''

But not even Tendulkar wins matches by himself. This time he was royally aided and abetted by Rahul Dravid, who made 104 not out in 111 balls and helped his mighty team-mate put on 237 in 29 overs for the third wicket - a World Cup record for any wicket, beating the Waugh brothers' 207 in 1996.

India's total was the highest so far of this tournament, the seventh 'all-time' best, and more than enough to give them their opening win. But, above even figures and records, it was a day for blissful hero-worship.

Tendulkar was cheered all the way to the wicket, and again for taking guard, and once more for narrowly escaping being run out. Every one of his three sixes and 16 fours were hailed as masterpieces in their own right - and so were most of his singles. He would have been given a standing ovation for blowing his nose.

All that happened, in fact, was that two of the world's best batsmen did serious mischief to one of the tournament's more modest bowling attacks on a courteous wicket. Kenya, in their three games, have now conceded 764 runs and taken only eight wickets.

Sadagopan Ramesh and Saurav Ganguly gave India their foundation and then made way for their top of the bill act. Dravid was always excellent, and sometimes something even more, but Tendulkar was still the master, a blend of power and persuasion in which every angle and percentage was precisely calculated. His hundred came from 84 balls.

And yet, amid the wreckage, Kenya's opening bowler, Martin Suji, managed a good line and occasional bounce to finish with one for 26 from his 10 overs. He missed the gathering storm.

All of which was tough on Mohammed Azharuddin. He needs only 20 to become the first to reach 9,000 in one-day internationals - and, next man in, he waited for nearly 30 overs for a chance which never came.

Kenya, however, did enough in the gloaming to salvage some pride. India were without Anil Kumble and Venkatesh Prasad, and Kenya, brightly and occasionally brutally, made good use of a big field.

Kennedy Otieno and Steve Tikolo both made snappy fifties, full of brave improvisation, and to put a little cherry on their day the one over Tendulkar bowled was plundered for 23. Retreat of embarrassed hero.

Kenya revealed before the start of the World Cup that India were one of the sides they felt they might beat - provided, of course, they found a way to dismiss Tendulkar.

India's Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee, sent a message of congratulation to Tendulkar. He described his unbeaten 140 as a ``wonderful century, made unforgettable especially by the tragic circumstance in which you scored it''.

``Not only did you not let the deep personal loss caused by your father's sudden demise deter you, but you actually used it as an inspiration to scale another summit in cricketing excellence. The whole of India is proud of you today.''

Source: The Electronic Telegraph
Editorial comments can be sent to The Electronic Telegraph at et@telegraph.co.uk