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April 17, 2000
Sachin puts knock of 233 'at the top'
Master batsman Sachin Tendulkar, who inspired Bombay to a convincing eight-wicket victory over Tamil Nadu in the Ranji Trophy semi-final at the Wankhede stadium, Bombay, described his glorious unbeaten 233 of the first innings of the match, amongst his best.
"I think it is one of the most important innings I have played in my life," said Tendulkar, after steering Bombay to their 38th Ranji Trophy final.
"And even though it is not Test cricket, the knock is very, very important to me. It came at the right time, for the team needed it the most. I would put this innings right there at the top," he added.
"I just decided that I am going to go out there and hang around till the end ... till we reach 486."
Ashok Mankad, the Bombay coach, was lavish in his praise for Tendulkar's brilliant innings.
"I think this is one of the greatest innings ever played in cricket -- for the commitment, discipline and dedication. And it took us into the final with our heads held high," he said.
"It was Sachin's positive energy which influenced all of us and it turned out to be a sterling performance. I am truly honoured to be the coach of such a talented side," added Mankad.
Tendulkar also praised his bowlers for their effort in the second innings when they bowled out Tamil Nadu for a lowly 171.
"I felt that though we had taken a lead of five runs, the match was not over. Even if I had not scored the runs, the match was not over," he said.
"The game was wide open. I thought our bowlers did really, really well in the second innings. It was a very disciplined performance and we knew exactly what we were doing. If they had scored around 250 runs, the pressure would have been back on us.''
"It was always a tight situation. At no stage did we think that we could surpass the Tamil Nadu first innings score easily. We kept losing wickets at the wrong times and that kept the pressure on us."
And while Tendulkar hogged the limelight, Tamil Nadu batsman Hemang Badani's fine efforts did not go unnoticed. The 23-year-old southpaw made a brilliant 162 in the first innings and a fighting 63 in the second.
"I thought he really batted well. He showed a lot of class and temperament, and good character. He was solid enough to stay there and take up the challenge,'' said Tendulkar.
Tendulkar however said that Badani has to be given time prove himself.
"I think we should give him some more time. I have just seen him in a couple of innings and he has batted very well in those two innings. But I have not seen the other side. So I think it is too early to pass a judgment. But whatever I have seen of him, I must say I was really impressed," said Tendulkar.
Robin Singh said his persistence with Badani paid off.
"Badani batted very well. He played a very good knock. I always thought he was a very good batsman but he has not been very consistent. He was out of form but we persisted with him and he came good at the right time,'' said Robin.
But if Sachin's knock was great, the match was nothing short of sensational. And most agreed to that.
"This is probably one of the best games I have ever played and that includes one-dayers, Test matches and tour matches. I am sure the spectators enjoyed it too," said Tendulkar.
Robin Singh, the Tamil Nadu skipper, too agreed that the game was a thriller.
"I think it was almost like playing an international," he said. "We realised that the pressure was on Bombay and Sachin was the mainstay. It was very important for him to stay. Normally I think he would have taken on the bowlers a little more. But in this situation, I think he played as required.''
Analysing the defeat, Robin felt that they had their chances, but they could not grasp them.
"Considering that we had such a brilliant start on the first day, I thought we should have got more runs. After being 400 for 4, we had no business getting out for 485. Even then I thought 485 was not such a bad score. But we didnít bowl too well and thatís where we lost the game really,'' said Robin.
"We bowled well I think in just one session on the second day. We bowled 37 overs and got three wickets."
Robin however did not agree that his batsmen were under psychological pressure in the second innings after conceding the lead.
"I think it was very poor batting. Every one was told that we must bat the whole day and try and set them a target of about 300 or even 250.
"Overall we played well only on the first day. We had our chances. We dropped Sachin, we had two chances to run them out. The game was not over even after they got the lead. I felt that we could have still got something out of the game provided we batted well in the second innings and got 300 runs,'' Robin said.
Reasoning Bombay poor performance the previous season, Tendulkar felt such things happen and have to be accepted.
"Ups and downs are always going to be there. If there are no ups and downs in life, it would be very dull and one would lose interest,'' he said.
"I am not going to cover it up by saying that 'fine, it's okay if you all donít play wellí. But we should not get so demoralised that we donít have the strength to hit back. It should instead motivate us to hit back next year and play better cricket," Tendulkar added.
Bombay have put the disappointments of the last year behind them. And they are all charged up for the final.
"We are looking forward to the final because last year was not too good. We are all very charged up,'' said Tendulkar.
"We will try and prove, with the grace of God, that we are one of the best sides in the world,'' said coach Mankad.
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