Sachin Tendulkar has batted in the India jersey only once on his birthday, and he scored a match-winning century on that day. He had celebrated his 25th birthday by blasting a 131-ball 134 in the final of the Coca Cola Cup vs Australia in Sharjah, just two days after the iconic ‘Desert Storm’ innings.
Put into bat, Australia posted a challenging 272 for nine, thanks to fifties from skipper Steve Waugh and Darren Lehmann.
Tendulkar had bamboozled the Australian team with a one-man-show to earn India a place in the final two days ago, but not many would have expected a redux was on the cards in the final.
Tendulkar, smashing shots all around the park, found an able partner in captain Mohammad Azharuddin and the two negated the Aussie attack and put on 120-run partnership to take India close to victory. Tendulkar was the victim of a dubious lbw decision towards the end of the match but by then the match had virtually been won.
Tendulkar, having just turned 25, had come up with yet another innings for the highlights reel on his birthday. His 131-ball 134 had been studded with 12 fours and three sixes. India won the match by six wickets
“As long as the team wins, it hardly matters. But I must make a special mention of Sachin. He was absolutely brilliant,” Azharuddin said on the disputed umpiring decisions in the final that got him and Sachin out.
“I was only trying my best to win the game for India. I knew I had to hang around,” Tendulkar said after the match.
“We were beaten by one man” conceded Steve Waugh. “It is difficult to control Sachin when he is on a song. What sort of field can one set for a batsman who has so many shots to play,” said the exasperated Australian skipper.
Talking about the day in an interview many years later, Tendulkar recounted, “Steve Waugh said that they had lost to me, which was quite something coming from the Australian captain on a day which also happened to be my 25th birthday. There could have been no better birthday present.”
Tendulkar never again batted on his birthday for India. He did bat twice in the IPL on April 24 – against Deccan Chargers in 2011 and against Kolkata Knight Riders in 2013 – turning out to be on the winning side on both those occasions as well.