Tendulkar’s ten highest impact centuries

Some surprising inclusions and omissions

Since Tendulkar’s tally of 100 international centuries consist of both ODI and Test centuries, we present a list here of his highest impact centuries – 5 in ODI cricket, followed by 5 in Tests.

Quite a few of these are performances that most people do not even remember – as they are not bestowed with the same romance and sentimentality that often provides an exaggerated hue on their true value.

All these performances are first, high impact in a match context, and then, series-defining feats (except one, which is mentioned) – that had a crucial say in the final result of the series (or the tournament).

Overall, Tendulkar has 10 Series/tournament-defining performances in his ODI career (the most by a batsman in ODI history) and 6 in his Test career. He has been a greater ODI player than a Test player…and perhaps this list will explain somewhat why.

Highest Impact ODI Century – 1
(all numbers on an IMPACT scale between 0 and 5 on a career level, kept unrestricted on a match level here)

117 v Australia in Sydney, 2008 (CB Series Final) - Batting IMPACT 7.70

Runs Tally IMPACT 5.34
Strike Rate IMPACT 0.96
Partnership Building IMPACT 0.43
Chasing IMPACT 0.97
Batting IMPACT 7.70

Contrary to all expectations, India reached the CB Series finals in 2008 – a remarkable achievement given their debacle in the World Cup the year before. Tendulkar, often (and rightly) criticised for not delivering for India on the big occasion as often as a player of his stature was expected to, did so this spectacularly this time. In the first final, chasing Australia’s 239-8, stabilising the situation from the beginning (in an innings that became 87-3 at one point), Tendulkar guided India home with an unbeaten 117 in 120 balls. It was his first, and till date, his only, ODI century in Australia.
(He followed up this performance with an outstanding 91 in the second final, which helped India win the tournament 2-0 in the finals.)

Highest Impact ODI Century – 2
(all numbers on an IMPACT scale between 0 and 5 on a career level, kept unrestricted on a match level here)

134 vs Australia in Sharjah, 1998 (Coca-Cola Cup Final) - Batting IMPACT 6.97

Runs Tally IMPACT 5.38
Strike Rate IMPACT 0.65
Partnership Building IMPACT 0.45
Chasing IMPACT 0.49
Batting IMPACT 6.97

Most people remember his previous innings (the 143 “sandstorm” innings) that got India into the final of this tournament.
Fact is, if he had not produced this performance in the final itself, that innings would not have the same importance, and would not be remembered with a fraction of the fondness it still inspires. Chasing Australia’s 272, Tendulkar produced a masterfully calibrated 134 off 131 balls (interestingly, the exact same number of balls faced as in the “sandstorm” innings) that had comprehensively finished the match off when he was third out at 248 in the 45th over.

Highest Impact ODI Century – 3
(all numbers on an IMPACT scale between 0 and 5 on a career level, kept unrestricted on a match level here)

138 vs Sri Lanka in Colombo, 2009 (Compaq Cup Final) - Batting IMPACT 5.78

Runs Tally IMPACT 5.13
Strike Rate IMPACT 0.19
Partnership Building IMPACT 0.46
Batting IMPACT 5.78

Beating Sri Lanka in their own back-yard had been an elusive conquest for India for more than a decade. When they got a chance in 2009, Tendulkar led the way with his 44th ODI hundred – an-immaculately-crafted 138 off 133 balls, with substantial contributions around him from Dravid, Dhoni and Yuvraj, that propelled India to 319. Harbhajan led the way with the ball (on a pitch that deteriorated) and Tendulkar had played the leading role in an important Indian tournament win for the second time in successive years.

Highest Impact ODI Century – 4
(all numbers on an IMPACT scale between 0 and 5 on a career level, kept unrestricted on a match level here)

124 not out v Zimbabwe in Sharjah, 1998 (Coca-Cola Championship Trophy Final) –

Batting IMPACT 5.75
Runs Tally IMPACT 3.47
Strike Rate IMPACT 1.41
Partnership Building IMPACT 0.25
Batting IMPACT 5.75

No one remembers this performance today and the seeming lightweight opposition is actually a desert mirage. This Zimbabwe side vanquished ODI World Champions Sri Lanka 3 days before to reach this final. Eight months later, they would be World Cup quarter-finalists. On this day though, they were bowled out for 196, setting the stage for perhaps a hard-fought graft (given the pitch and the low-scoring league match they had vanquished India in). Nothing like that ensued though – Ganguly held one end up for the most part (63 off 90 balls) and Tendulkar, at his absolute peak as a player in 1998, systematically demolished the hapless Zimbabwe bowlers (especially Olanga, who had shown signs of being a world-beater earlier on in the tournament) as he blasted 124 off 92 balls with 12 boundaries and 6 sixes. India won by ten wickets, their biggest victory in a tournament final.

Highest Impact ODI Century – 5
(all numbers on an IMPACT scale between 0 and 5 on a career level, kept unrestricted on a match level here)

128 v Sri Lanka in Colombo, 1998 (Singer-Akai Nidahas Trophy Final) Batting IMPACT 5.05

Runs Tally IMPACT 4.64
Partnership Building IMPACT 0.41
Batting IMPACT 5.05

Yet another 1998 special from Tendulkar – in the last tournament India would win in Sri Lanka till 2009 (number 3 on this list). India batted first – and batted and batted – as the first wicket put on 252 till Tendulkar finally departed for 128 off 131 balls (that magic number again – it was his 1998 number). Ganguly eventually made 109 off 136 balls as India mustered up a formidable (for its time) 307. Aravinda DeSilva got a century too, but his team collapsed when he got out (at 272), and India beat the World Champions by 6 runs in the end.

Highest Impact Test Century – 1
(all numbers on an IMPACT scale between 0 and 5 on a career level, kept unrestricted on a match level here)

160 v New Zealand in Hamilton, 2009 - Batting IMPACT 5.44

1st Innings
Runs Tally IMPACT 5.02
Partnership Building IMPACT 0.42
Batting IMPACT 5.44

India won the 2009 away series in New Zealand 1-0, the first such win in 41 years. And in the only decisive Test match of the series, Tendulkar notched up 160 in about four-and-a-half hours of batting (he came in at 142-3 and was out 301 runs later) ­while New Zealand made 279 in each of their two innings (with all the Indian bowlers chipping in). The timing of Tendulkar’s 42nd Test hundred was immaculate.

Highest Impact Test Century – 2
(all numbers on an IMPACT scale between 0 and 5 on a career level, kept unrestricted on a match level here)

193 v England in Leeds, 2002 - Batting IMPACT 5.40

1st Innings
Runs Tally IMPACT 4.94
Partnership Building IMPACT 0.46
Batting IMPACT 5.40

India was 0-1 down in the 4-Test series. After captain Ganguly won the toss and asked his batsmen to overcome difficult conditions early on, Dravid and Bangar responded spectacularly with a 170-run partnership at the top. Tendulkar came out to bat at 185-2 after the conditions had been considerably tamed and the ball had had its shine taken off (and stopped moving as prodigiously as before). Dravid departed at 335 (for a classic 148, which would get the Man-of-the-Match award) and together with Ganguly (who made 128), Tendulkar proceeded to finish the match off by piling on the runs mercilessly – a rare occasion of the famous trio delivering big performances simultaneously. The Indian bowlers responded (notably Kumble, in both innings) and India won by an innings and drew the series eventually 1-1, the first time in 16 years when they did not lose a series outside Asia. It was a sign of things to come.

Highest Impact Test Century – 3
(all numbers on an IMPACT scale between 0 and 5 on a career level, kept unrestricted on a match level here)

4 & 155 not out v Australia in Chennai, 1998 - Batting IMPACT 5.12

1st Innings
Runs Tally IMPACT 0.08
Batting IMPACT 0.08
2nd Innings
Runs Tally IMPACT 4.50
Pressure IMPACT 0.14
Partnership Building IMPACT 0.40
Batting IMPACT 5.04

This one is a celebrated century from his marquee year - 1998. India, after conceding a 71-run lead in the first innings (deemed substantial in those circumstances), were 115-2 when Sidhu walked back (after a rousing attack on Warne, which didn’t last long enough). Tendulkar took charge of proceedings and within a couple of hours turned the match on its head. His attack on Warne especially knocked the stuffing out of Australia – and they proceeded to lose the second Test and the series. This performance was a rare momentum-changing performance on the IMPACT scale.

Highest Impact Test Century – 4
(all numbers on an IMPACT scale between 0 and 5 on a career level, kept unrestricted on a match level here)

0 & 136 v Pakistan in Chennai, 1999 - Batting IMPACT 8.04

1st Innings
Batting IMPACT 0.00
2nd Innings
Runs Tally IMPACT 5.50
Innings Start IMPACT 0.28
Pressure IMPACT 1.82
Partnership Building 0.44
Batting IMPACT 8.04

A celebrated innings from Tendulkar – the only one which is not a series defining performance on this list – or indeed even a match India won. Chasing 271 in the fourth innings, Tendulkar accounted for exactly half those runs but could not finish the job – he was seventh out 17 runs short, and India were all out four runs later. But this six-and-a-half hour effort ranks as one of his classics and is the highest impact single individual Test innings of his career.

Highest Impact Test Century – 5
(all numbers on an IMPACT scale between 0 and 5 on a career level, kept unrestricted on a match level here)

37 & 103 not out v England in Chennai, 2008 - Batting IMPACT 3.77

1st Innings
Runs Tally IMPACT 0.73
Batting IMPACT 0.73
2nd Innings
Runs Tally IMPACT 2.36
Partnership Building IMPACT 0.26
Chasing IMPACT 0.42
Batting IMPACT 3.04

In a classic fourth innings chase of 387 – India romped home with 6 wickets to spare, led by Tendulkar’s poised unbeaten century in more than 5 hours of batting. Sehwag’s quickfire 83 had opened up the game the previous evening (for which he got the Man-of-the-Match award) while Gambhir’s 66 and Yuvraj’s unbeaten 85 made the chase look easy on a flat pitch. As no Indian crossed an IMPACT of 5 in this match, Tendulkar, Sehwag and Yuvraj, based on their impact on the match, all registered series-defining IMPACT for their performances (primarily for what they did during the run-chase).

(all numbers on an IMPACT scale between 0 and 5 on a career level, kept unrestricted on a match level here)

214 & 53 not out v Australia in Bangalore, 2010 – Batting IMPACT  5.46

1st Innings
Runs Tally IMPACT 2.42
Innings Start IMPACT 0.14
Pressure IMPACT 0.49
Pressure Building IMPACT 0.23
Batting IMPACT 3.28
2nd Innings
Runs Tally IMPACT 1.98
Partnership Building IMPACT 0.20
Batting IMPACT 2.18

This is not one of Tendulkar’s more celebrated performances, though it should be. After losing the first Test narrowly (thanks to Laxman’s heroics at the end, though Tendulkar played a significant role with 98 and 38 in the match), Australia put up 478 and had India at 38-2 when Tendulkar walked in. With Murali Vijay, he stabilised the innings and gradually began to dominate in an inimitable style that gave the Australians no chance. His 49th Test century extended to 214 in 9 hours of batting. Later, Australia set India 207 to win, and Tendulkar walked out again at 89-2, watched Pujara play an outstanding innings in his first Test, and calmly completed the job with an assured, unbeaten 53 (it is noteworthy that that has a seemingly disproportionately high impact compared to his first innings double century – purely because of the circumstances).
This performance did not come in a decider Test match – and so does not get on this list. But on a career level, Tendulkar got series-defining status for this because this was Tendulkar’s second (consecutive) IMPACT 5 performance in the same series – the only one in his career.

(all numbers on an IMPACT scale between 0 and 5 on a career level, kept unrestricted on a match level here)

68 & 119 not out v England in Manchester, 1990 - Batting IMPACT 6.15

1st Innings
Runs Tally IMPACT 0.79
Pressure IMPACT 0.34
Partnership Building IMPACT 0.10
Batting IMPACT 1.23
2nd Innings
Runs Tally IMPACT 2.70
Pressure IMPACT 1.50
Partnership Building IMPACT 0.24
Chasing IMPACT 0.48
Batting IMPACT 4.92

Tendulkar, playing in his 9th Test, not quite 17 yet, came in to bat at 109-4, as India  faced a whole day to survive (or to make 408 runs to win in the fourth innings, which wouldn’t even have entered Indian minds in those days). Showing the same fluency with which he had made 68 in the first innings, Tendulkar batted for almost 4 hours, helped add 234 runs in the middle (primarily with Manoj Prabhakar) and saved the match for India. It made no difference to the series though (India still lost) but this remains one of Tendulkar’s finest innings/centuries – the only one where saved a Test for India in the fourth innings.

­It is interesting to note that two out of Tendulkar’s five highest impact Test centuries came in a support role (though in crucial circumstances) – it is a pointer to why his impact in Tests has not been as high as it has been in ODIs.

His back-to-back ODI performances in 1998 and 2008, both to win a tournament against Australia, are the highest impact performances he has had in his career – and they are both limited-overs masterpieces (it is curious though that none of his 5 highest impact ODI innings had him absorb any pressure).

Many of his other gems (like his 200 vs South Africa in ODIs or his 241 vs Australia in Tests do not figure on this list simply because they did not have the same kind of impact on a series/tournament level (and sometimes not even on a match level, given the circumstances in the game).

It is a remarkable achievement though, that a batsman could produce two of his finest ODI performances a decade apart from each other, and his highest impact Test performances too cover a span of over a decade. This longevity is Tendulkar’s greatest hallmark…and the 100 international centuries too are a testament to that.

Yahoo! page with excellent slide show here.


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