"Had to beg and plead for opening slot" - Sachin Tendulkar recounts his baptism with fire as ODI opener in 1994

“Had to beg and plead for opening slot” – Sachin Tendulkar recounts his baptism with fire as ODI opener in 1994

On a track where shot-making wasn't that easy, Tendulkar made it look ridiculously simple as the opener in that innings.

Sachin Tendulkar
Sachin Tendulkar. (Photo Source: GettyImages)

On the morning of March 27, 1994, India’s opener Navjot Singh Sidhu woke up with a sore neck. Sidhu was in the form of his life. His scores in the ODIs leading to the match-up read: 34, 26, 79 and 108. Add a match-saving 98 in the second innings of a Test match plus an outstanding home series against Sri Lanka, the big right-hander was certainty not only to open in that game but for some time in the distant future.

But, as they say, it depends on how you see it. Sometimes adversity comes wearing clothes of adversity, and it is really up to and individual as to how he perceives it. Whether he comes forward and embrace the adversity purely depends on his character. If you look at every challenge as an opportunity to prosper; like the 21-year-old Sachin Tendulkar did that day in Auckland back in 1994, you’re certainly treading on a great path.

It was 1994. And, Tendulkar’s ODI career had seen middling-returns thus far. Batting in the middle-order, he had averaged 30.84 after 69 ODIs without a single hundred. But, it all changed that day in Auckland.

‘Don’t be afraid of failure’

Recently, Sachin Tendulkar recently shared a video on his LinkedIn account where he reminisced how he had to beg and plead to open the innings in 1994. “In 1994, when I started opening the batting for India, the strategy used by all teams was to save wickets. What I tried to do was slightly out of the box,” he said.

Realizing that a golden opportunity presented itself of showcasing his potential at the top of the order, Tendulkar went up to the captain Mohammad Azharuddin and coach Ajit Wadekar to give him just one chance to open the innings for India. The Master Blaster also added that if he failed, he won’t ask for a second chance.

“I thought I could go up front and take the opposition bowlers on. But I had to beg and plead to give me a chance. If I fail, I won’t come after you again. In that first match (against New Zealand at Auckland), I scored 82 off 49 balls, so I didn’t have to ask again if I would get another chance. They were keen for me to open. But what I’m trying to say here is, don’t be afraid of failure,” the 46-year-old Tendulkar added

Off-course! He didn’t fail. In-fact, he shellacked the Kiwi bowlers all around the Eden Park. On a track where shot-making wasn’t that easy, Tendulkar made it look ridiculously simple. It was like he waited for this opportunity. In what turned out to be career-defining innings [82 off 49 balls], Tendulkar went to show if you look at adversity as an opportunity then almost nothing is possible.

Post that innings, Tendulkar went on a rampage and recorded scores of 82,63, 40, 63 and 73 in the first five innings as an opening batsman before finally completing his 1st ODI century in his 79th game against the Australians in Colombo later that year

Here’s the video of Tendulkar’s innings: