10 of the Best Strokes of Sachin Tendulkar's Cricket Career

Tim CollinsFeatured ColumnistNovember 18, 2013

10 of the Best Strokes of Sachin Tendulkar's Cricket Career

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    Ryan Pierse/Getty Images

    After 24 long years in the game, Sachin Tendulkar has finally brought the curtain down on a glittering international career.

    The finest batsman of the modern era, the "Little Master" has carried the weight of a nation by spending a staggeringly prolonged existence at the pinnacle of the sport.

    A career that yielded 34,357 international runs over nearly two-and-a-half decades has left many of the game's observers searching for words to describe modern cricket's most dominant force.

    Yet, in the aftermath of his career, few have looked at the single moments of brilliance that have littered his reign, instead focusing on the grandeur of his collective achievements.

    Certainly, Tendulkar's highlight reel is considerably longer than almost all before him. But what are his finest strokes? What shots have thrilled the crowds while typifying his skill at the same time?

    A selection of those shots are showcased on the following slides.

     

Helicopter Shot vs. Darren Gough in 2002 NatWest Series

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    Who said MS Dhoni invented the helicopter shot?

    Long before Dhoni's arrival on the international scene, Tendulkar had accomplished the feat of smashing a delivery through the on-side with a jaw-dropping twirl of the bat.

    While textbook beauty was unquestionably Tendulkar's finest trait, he was also capable of bludgeoning an attack when he pleased.

    Here, against England's Darren Gough in 2002, Tendulkar nonchalantly flayed the right arm quick past mid-wicket after reaching one of his 100 international centuries.

Pull-Shot Six vs. Andrew Caddick in 2003 World Cup

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    In the early part of the last decade, Tendulkar was relentlessly emphatic in the 50-over format.

    While he reserved his most graceful efforts for the Test arena, the "Little Master" used the one-day game for his own personal showcase.

    The 2003 World Cup was arguably his finest example of that, where he clubbed 673 runs in just 11 innings to steer India to the final.

    In Durban, Tendulkar faced up to England's Andrew Caddick, dispatching him for a simply colossal six with one of the most savage pull-shots the game has ever witnessed.

Upper-Cut vs. Brett Lee in Perth 2008

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    While Brett Lee was a source of terror for many of the world's batsmen, Tendulkar seemed to relish not only the challenge but also the pace with which the ball left his bat.

    Of course, it takes someone with impeccable timing to repel such devastating speed. Few have ever owned that quality to a greater extent than India's finest-ever player.

    Here, in Perth in 2008, the now 40-year-old swayed back to one of Lee's brutal bouncers to glide the ball over the third-man fence with minimum fuss.

    The shot is an incredible example of Tendulkar's magical hands, as few could ever play such a stroke with the same level of grace.

Straight Drive vs. Brett Lee in Melbourne 2008

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    Lee was again victim to one of Tendulkar's finest efforts in the Australian summer of 2008, but this time it was in a far different manner.

    During an ODI game at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, Tendulkar was in an incredibly buoyant mood, taking on the speedster with his usual level of supreme confidence.

    After Lee had strayed wide of off-stump to see the Indian master flash him through the off-side, the Australian settled on a better length for his subsequent delivery.

    Yet, what followed was a simply blistering stroke, with Tendulkar blasting Lee down the ground with such brutality that the bowler had barely turned his head when the ball struck the fence.

Straight Six vs. Shane Warne in Sharjah 1998

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    That he's one of the few batsmen consistently to get the better of Shane Warne is perhaps one of Tendulkar's finest achievements.

    His flawless technique, combined with his rapid footwork, made the Indian sensation the complete player of spin bowling.

    Whereas Warne terrorised so many others, Tendulkar routinely hammered Australia's prolific wicket-taker throughout his career.

    Here, in Sharjah in 1998, the "Little Master" demonstrates his immaculate footwork to skip inside the line of Warne's delivery before heaving him over the fence against the spin.

Pull-Shot Six vs. Dilhara Fernando in 2002 NatWest Series

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    Like his effort against Andrew Caddick in the 2003 World Cup, Tendulkar showed the might of his pull-shot during the English summer of 2002.

    Facing up to Dilhara Fernando—who at the time was one of the world's most dangerous limited-overs bowlers—Tendulkar dealt one of the most fearsome blows of his career.

    When Fernando dropped short at the Oval during the NatWest series, the maestro rocked back and launched one of the biggest sixes of his career, sending the ball well over a massive square-leg boundary.

    It proved to be a warning of what was to come at the World Cup less than 12 months later.

On-Drive vs. Sri Lanka in 2011 World Cup

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    Of all the shots in his arsenal, the on-drive was perhaps the most exquisite of Tendulkar's strokes.

    His balance at the crease, combined with the most delightful high elbow, made his on-drive a shot of pure beauty.

    Yet the most extraordinary component of the shot was the apparent lack of effort, the ball often racing from his bat after nothing more than a delicate push.

    In the 2011 World Cup against Sri Lanka, Tendulkar showcased one of his finest examples of the stroke, elegantly caressing the ball back past the bowler in a manner that would have thrilled the game's most loyal fans.

Straight Six vs. Eddo Brandes in Benoni 1997

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    As demonstrated in his play against Shane Warne, Tendulkar's footwork was unrivalled during the height of his career.

    Fleet of foot with a lightning eye, the diminutive batsman was capable of manoeuvring himself into unthinkable positions to deliver crushing blows.

    Against Eddo Brandes of Zimbabwe in 1997, Tendulkar did just that, skipping well inside the line of the ball to play a sumptuous, slightly inside-out straight drive back over the bowler's head and into the stands.

    It's hard to think of another cricketer who could play such a breathtaking stroke.

Pull-Shot Six vs. Glenn McGrath in 2000 ICC Knockout

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    Battles between Tendulkar and Glenn McGrath nearly always reached epic proportions.

    Given that the teams regularly met in enormously important matches, the two men's clashes were endlessly captivating.

    As the leader of Australia's attack, McGrath relished the opportunity to bowl to India's superstar, while Tendulkar embraced the challenge in the same manner.

    During the 2000 ICC Knockout Competition (now known as the Champions Trophy), Tendulkar delivered one of his most telling blows on the Australian, launching this incredible six over square-leg.

On-Drive vs. Craig McDermott in Perth 1992

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    The quintessential Tendulkar stroke: his on-drive off Craig McDermott in Perth in 1992 to bring up his third Test century.

    The significance of the innings perfectly encapsulated the essence of Tendulkar, as he defied conventional wisdom to score a glittering century on the most un-Indian wicket imaginable. In fact, at the time Perth was considered the fastest pitch in the world; a place where subcontinental cricketers regularly perished.

    Yet Tendulkar's grace stood firm, seeing him compile 114 majestic runs to make a breathtaking statement in the early years of his career.

    The shot to bring up his century is arguably the finest stroke he's ever played.