This is a cricket memory in two parts: the first part I saw with my own eyes; the second part I didn't see, but you will soon understand why I include it here today.
The game was the second Test between England and India at Old Trafford in 1990. England had won the first Test at Lord's by 247 runs; it was the game in which Graham Gooch made 333 and 123. Then, winning the toss at Old Trafford and batting, England posted 519 in their first innings, with hundreds from Gooch, Michael Atherton and Robin Smith. In their second innings Allen Lamb was to add a fourth England hundred. In all it was a game of six centuries, since India notched up two of their own.
The first of these was the one I saw, scored by Mohammad Azharuddin. It was the Saturday of the Test, the only day for which I was present, and Azharuddin's innings dominated the day. It is an innings I won't forget: partly because Azharuddin added a hundred runs to his total between lunch and tea, but mainly for the sheer splendour of his stroke play. As his innings began to unfold and flourish, there were several occasions on which I had hardly registered his having hit the ball before it was at the boundary; so delicate and well-timed was his touch that with just a flick of the wrists he would use the pace of the ball to do most of the work, and I missed the sound of its hitting the bat.
The other Indian hundred, the one I wasn't there to see, was Sachin Tendulkar's in the Indian second innings. It helped to earn India a draw, and it now stands, more particularly, as the first of that very great batsman's 100 international hundreds - the 100th of them just lately achieved.
From contemporary accounts of the game:
Of the six individual centuries scored in this fascinating contest, none was more outstanding than Tendulkar's, which rescued India on the final afternoon. At 17 years and 112 days, he was only 30 days older than Mushtaq Mohammad was when, against India at Delhi in 1960-61, he became the youngest player to score a Test hundred. More significantly, after several of his colleagues had fallen to reckless strokes, Tendulkar held the England attack at bay with a disciplined display of immense maturity.
On Saturday... they [India] were rescued in style by their captain, Azharuddin, and Manjrekar, whose fourth-wicket stand of 189 set the pace for an entertaining day's play in which 355 runs were scored. Manjrekar made 93 in three and three-quarter hours before falling to a bat-pad catch at silly point off the tireless Hemmings, but Azharuddin could not be stopped so easily. In a breathtaking 281-minute stay for 179, he hit 21 fours and a six, and between lunch and tea he became the first player to score 100 runs for India in a Test session.
Tendulkar remained undefeated on 119, having batted for 224 minutes and hit seventeen fours. He looked the embodiment of India's famous opener, Gavaskar, and indeed was wearing a pair of his pads. While he displayed a full repertoire of strokes in compiling his maiden Test hundred, most remarkable were his off-side shots from the back foot. Though only 5ft 5in tall, he was still able to control without difficulty short deliveries from the English paceman. Wisden 1991
India comfortably achieved their task of scoring 320 to avoid the follow-on, Azharuddin giving another delightful exhibition of wristy strokeplay in scoring 179.
Tendulkar was very much the hero of the hour and he earned David Lloyd's selection as the Cornhill 'Man of the Match'. - Bill Frindall, Gooch's Golden Summer
[For links to the other posts in this series, see here.]