A list of Tendulkar’s highest-impact performances is interesting for what it includes: some memorable ones – and hailed for often not the usual reasons – and many forgotten.
In a system such as this, which measures the impact of a performance within the context of a match, the relative strengths of the performances by other players in the same match have as much of a role in determining its impact as the performance itself. Sometimes that big picture can be slightly misleading (as in a match reduced to a formality after a particularly strong performance) but usually it provides a truer picture of what really happened in the game.
Highest Impact Test Performances
The series-defining performance (SD) is the most important performance in this system – where a performance in a match determines the series scoreline. It could be the deciding Test of a series or the sole match in the series with a result. It could be drawing level in a Test series from behind or changing the momentum for the ostensibly weaker side in the series from a position of weakness. It could even be producing two big performances in a winning series, whatever the scoreline. This is the true legacy of a player and this is where the biggest distinction between players happens on our system.
It is a fair argument that a side’s overall strength determines the propensity of getting SD performances – especially its bowling strength. Sunil Gavaskar and Brian Lara are two players in Test history who suffered on this count. But interestingly, they still have a very high impact on the impact scales – a testament to their consistency and ability to take the opportunities that came their way.
The highest-impact performances in a player’s career will always be these SD performances therefore. In order to not lose out on the other outstanding performances where they did not necessarily impact the series scoreline as much, we also provide a list of the highest impact performances in a match context.
Below, we list Sachin Tendulkar’s highest impact performances in Tests and ODIs.
Five Highest Impact Test Performances (Series Context)
1) 193 v England in Leeds, 2002
India levelled a series in England after a long time in a match where Rahul Dravid, Sourav Ganguly and Tendulkar all got centuries. It was the foundation set by Sanjay Bangar and Dravid in difficult conditions that led the way for the team making 628 for 8 and winning by an innings (which is what accords Tendulkar’s highest score of the match such a big impact). Tendulkar may have dominated the runs tally but Dravid (148) rightly earned the Man-of-the-Match award here.
2) 214 & 53 not out v Australia, 2010
Following his 98 and 38 in the first Test (amongst his highest impact performances too), Tendulkar produced another massive performance in the second Test – thus contributing crucially to his side winning 2-0 in this home series. His second-innings 53 coming in a fourth-innings chase of 207 after he came in at 89 for 2 when anything could have happened. This is Tendulkar’s only SD with two massive performances in the same series.
3) 160 v New Zealand in Hamilton, 2009
Again, a high-impact performance for the 10-wicket win that remained the sole result game of this series. The big win gave the highest scorer in the match (by a distance) a massive impact. India won a Test series in New Zealand after 41 years.
4) 4 & 155 not out v Australia, 1998
A famous performance – after conceding a 71-run lead in the first innings, and a solid start by Navjot Singh Sidhu, Tendulkar walked out at 115 for 2. With support from Dravid, Mohd Azharuddin and Ganguly, Tendulkar completely changed the complexion of the match by dominating the bowling (led by Warne) in a manner that left the Australians shell-shocked. They went on to lose the match by 179 runs, and the next match by an innings to hand India the series. A momentum-changing performance.
5) 41 & 54 v Sri Lanka, 2010
Perhaps the most interesting match on this list – this largely makes the cut on the strength of his fourth innings 54 as India chased 257 (led by Laxman’s classic unbeaten 103) to draw their first series in Sri Lanka in 13 years. Its fourth innings value makes it so high impact.
Tendulkar’s sixth series defining performance was in the famous fourth innings chase of 387 v England in Chennai 2008, where he made an unbeaten 103. Sehwag (who started the chase with a spectacular assault of 83 in 68 balls) and Yuvraj (unbeaten on 85) shared the impact with him.
NOTE: It is very interesting that the majority of Tendulkar’s big performances, especially the SDs and even TDs (tournament-defining performances in ODIs) came in fundamentally two phases in Tendulkar’s career. First, when he was at his peak (1996-1999) and when he had the most remarkable second wind any Test cricketer has ever had post-35 (2008-2011). He was not a great big match player otherwise. The argument that he was the sole great Indian player in the 1990s and not supported by his team is also not correct as Azharuddin had more big match performances than Tendulkar in the same period. And, post-2000, Laxman and Dravid were the real big match players for India. Interestingly, it is only under Dhoni that Tendulkar became the big match player that he had always promised to be – he got four of his six career Test SDs under Dhoni.
It is also interesting that three of Tendulkar’s six SDs in Tests came as a support act to someone else who took the lead and/or contributed more (Dravid at Leeds, Sehwag at Chennai, Laxman at Colombo).
Five Highest Impact Test Performances (Match Context)
1) 0 & 136 v Pakistan at Chennai, 1999
Perhaps his finest Test match innings, the 136 was made in a fourth innings chase (which explains Tendulkar’s high impact in the match despite scoring a duck in the first innings) of 257 on a difficult pitch, against a bowling line-up of Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis and an inspired Saqlain Mushtaq at his peak. Tendulkar came out to bat at 6 for 2 (which at one stage became 82 for 5) and was 7th out at 254, 17 runs from victory. The team was dismissed four runs later, so he was in the middle for 248 of the 258 runs his team made. This performance is also the second-highest Pressure Impact Test innings of his career.
2) 68 & 119 not out v England at Manchester, 1990
An innings (the 119) that doesn’t get spoken of much now, but is special for being Tendulkar’s only Test innings when he actually saved a Test match – at the age of 17! Behind by 408 runs in the fourth innings, India were 183 for 6 when Tendulkar was joined by Manoj Prabhakar (not yet a recognized batsman, as he would be later) with just survival on their mind through the two and a half hours remaining in the match. Prabhakar stayed unbeaten on 67 and Tendulkar followed up on a promising first innings knock with his maiden Test hundred wearing the pads of the man he showed signs of emulating in the future – Sunil Gavaskar. He also won his first Man-of-the-Match award. India still lost the series 0-1.
3) 47 & 113 v New Zealand at Wellington, 1998
India made 208 and 356 in this sole result Test of the series, overcoming a 144 run lead in the first innings through Tendulkar’s 113. Overall, in the match, he shared impact with Azharuddin who made 103 not out and 48 respectively. New Zealand chased down 213 despite being 74 for 5 at one stage. If India had picked four more wickets, this could have been Tendulkar’s and Azharuddin’s SDs instead of Craig McMillan’s and Simon Doull’s.
4) 116 & 52 v Australia at Melbourne 1999
A quintessential late-1990s performance from Tendulkar – where his own teammates largely watch him help the team compete a little bit for a short while. First, it was his sparkling 116 out of 238, stabilising the situation from 31 for 3. Then, with the team 376 behind in the fourth innings, taking the score to relative calmness from 40 to 133, and thereafter watching his team getting dismissed within 60 more runs.
5) 179 & 54 v West Indies at Nagpur, 1994
Tendulkar walked out at 49 for 2 in the first innings before dominating with Sidhu (and Azharuddin) thereafter on a flat pitch, leaving the crease only after almost 400 runs had been added. The same three scored in the second innings too (Tendulkar’s innings the slowest) but ran out of time to dismiss West Indies in the fourth innings as they played out 62 overs with five wickets in hand. Carl Hooper, for a superb all-round performance, got the Man-of-the-Match award.
114 & 5 v Australia at Perth, 1992
With India having already lost the series 0-3 to Australia, the last game was a dead rubber for both sides. Trailing Australia’s 346 in the first innings, India were 69 for 2 when Tendulkar walked in but soon the situation worsened to 159 for 8 before Tendulkar with the help of Kiran More kept India breathing with a score of 272. Australia took charge in the third innings by setting India a target of 442 and eventually went on to win by a dominating margin of 300 runs. Tendulkar’s performance, even though technically brilliant, meant little in the context of the match or series.
Highest Pressure Impact innings in Tests
Pressure Impact is the pressure a batsman absorbs (the pressure of falling wickets, so purely read from the scorecard).
Tendulkar’s highest Pressure Impact innings came in the first Test against West Indies in Mumbai in 1994. After a flimsy 29-run lead in the first innings, India were 11-3 when Tendulkar walked out to bat. Soon, it was 88-5 and Kenny Benjamin was running through the Indian batting. With Manjrekar, Tendulkar crafted a recovery that inspired the whole team to fight back. Even though he was out for 85 at 162, the tail-enders took the score to 333 and then bowled West Indies out to win by 96 runs.
Highest Impact ODI Performances (Series/ Tournament Context)
1) 117 not out v Australia, Commonwealth Bank Series, Sydney, 2008
Tendulkar’s twin performances in the finals of the CB Series constitute his highest impact ODI performances, pipping even the famous 1998 “sandstorm” centuries (the next one on the list). First, he helped India chase down 240, stabilising the innings at 87-3 at one stage, with almost a run-a-ball, unbeaten 117. In the next match (at Brisbane), he would be 4th out at 205 for a hard-fought 91– without which India would not have reached anywhere near the 258 it did, and eventually win by 9 runs. To produce two big performances back-to-back in Australia, for India to win its first tri-series there 2-0 – this was Tendulkar’s highest impact tournament-defining performance. Almost a year after he had contemplated retirement.
2) 134 v Australia, Coca Cola Cup, Sharjah, 1998
Tendulkar’s two back-to-back most famous performances, when he was truly in his pomp. First, 143 in the last qualifying match at Sharjah (a match interrupted by a rare sandstorm) which India actually lost but did enough to edge out New Zealand on run-rate. And then in the final, chasing 275, a seemingly effortless run-a-ball 134 that ensured that his team never relinquished control of the Coca-Cola Cup.
3) 95 v Pakistan, Silver Jubilee Independence Cup, Dhaka, 1998
The first final, chasing 213 in 46 overs in not the easiest conditions, finishing the match off with a spectacular 95 off 78 balls, as if batting on a different strip from every other batsman in the match.
4) 138 v Sri Lanka, Compaq Cup, Colombo, 2009
One of Tendulkar’s finest ODI innings (during that remarkable second wind) brought India its first 50-over title in Sri Lanka in 11 years. He had made exactly half the runs when he was dismissed at 276 at less than a run-a-ball (the next highest Indian score was 56). Sri Lanka’s spirited chase had the pace but not the volume.
5) 128 v Sri Lanka, Colombo, Singer-Akai Nidahas Trophy, 1998
This was precisely the last win – where he had scored a century too – in his other great phase. Here, Ganguly scored a century too, as they added 252 for the first wicket. 307 was a big score in those days and even the world champions, in their own backyard, fell short by 6 runs.
Highest Impact ODI Performances (Match Context)
1) 82 v Sri Lanka, Guwahati, 1997
Chasing 173 in 43 overs, India were under pressure at 26-2 after 8.3 overs when Tendulkar stepped in and waltzed his way through the chase by scoring an unbeaten 82 off 86 balls. On a pitch where each and every batsman struggled to score freely, Tendulkar scored almost at a rate of a run per ball. The next highest (and fastest) scorer for India was Navjot Sidhu with 36 off 50 balls but it was Tendulkar who effortlessly guided India through to a 7-wicket win. It was also a sign of things that would follow in the 1998 season. However, the Man of the Match award was given to Robin Singh (who took 5-22) who had a lower impact than Sachin – one of those faulty 44% occasions when the wrong guy gets this award (as per Impact Index findings).
2) 89 v Pakistan, Toronto, 1996
On a damp pitch in a rain-curtailed game of 33 overs, Pakistan’s score of 170 runs batting first looked like a competitive one and soon India were under pressure at 18-1 after the loss of Nayan Mongia. Even though timing the ball was not easy on such a pitch, Tendulkar looked in a different zone and single-handedly scored more than half of India’s runs at an aggressive yet controlled pace and led India to an 8-wicket victory. Rightly this time, he was given the Man of the Match award.
3) 200 v South Africa, Gwalior, 2010
It is interesting to note that his highest individual ODI knock is not actually his highest impact performance in ODIs (even in a match context). On a flat deck, he was supported by other Indian batsmen who scored heavily (and rapidly – which affects impact) as well and as a result he shared his impact with them (Karthik scored 79, Yusuf Pathan scored 36 and Dhoni finished off with 68 – the last two with very high strike rates). His performance also didn’t come in a crunch match of the series and as a result it doesn’t rank high on that count either.
4) 186 v New Zealand, Hyderabad, 1999
Sachin Tendulkar along with Rahul Dravid absolutely pummelled the New Zealand bowling attack after a brief initial moment of pressure when Ganguly was dismissed with the Indian score only at 10. They put on a world-record partnership of 331 runs for the 2nd wicket which led to India winning the match by a margin of 174 runs. Again, he shared impact with Dravid, who scored 153 runs.
5) 122 v West Indies, Harare, 2001
In a match which had no context absolutely to the rest of the tournament (both the teams had already qualified for the final), West Indies after batting first set a target of 230 for the Indians to chase. With an opening stand of 133 runs between Ganguly and Tendulkar, the Indian start was promising but a mini-collapse saw them losing 3 wickets for only 19 runs. It was up to Tendulkar to stop the rot and he replied by staying not out till the end and scored almost 50% of the total Indian runs to guide them through the rest of the chase comfortably.
98 v Pakistan, Centurion, ICC World Cup 2003
Against a bowling attack comprising the likes of Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis and Shoaib Akhtar at Centurion, Sachin Tendulkar played perhaps the most brutal, and memorable, innings in his ODI career. This innings ranks high on the Impact chart but misses out on the top spots due to Tendulkar’s inability to finish the chase for India. When Tendulkar was dismissed, India still needed a further 97 runs from 22.2 overs with 6 wickets in hand and Yuvraj and Dravid shared the rest of the impact for seeing India through safely without any more setbacks.
Highest Pressure performances in ODIs
In 2007, against Australia at Vadodara, India had a disastrous start in the match, losing 2 wickets for 5, 3 for 15 and a little later 5 for 43. Tendulkar, who had opened, kept the innings together with a hard-fought 47 off 73 balls, warding off the rampant pair of Lee and Johnson. India managed just 148 and Australia won with lots to spare but the match wouldn’t have lasted the five hours it did without Tendulkar’s effort.
In a winning cause, Tendulkar’s highest Pressure Impact ODI innings came in a famous match – but not for what he did. It was against Australia at Bangalore in 1996; chasing 215, India were 47 for 4 at one stage but Tendulkar’s 88 (off 111 balls) stabilised the innings considerably. He was 8th out at 164 however – and then a famous batting partnership between Anil Kumble and Javagal Srinath saw India home. Tendulkar was the Man of the Match but most people remember that match for that tail-end partnership.
Highest All-round ODI performance
141 and 4-38 v Australia, Dhaka, Wills International Cup quarter-final, 1998
With India under immense pressure at 8-2 after the early loss of Ganguly and Azharuddin, Tendulkar at his peak played one of his most dominating ODI innings and along with contributions from Rahul Dravid and Ajay Jadeja powered India to a total of 307 runs (the rest of the 7 Indian batsmen contributed just 47 runs). Australia’s spirited chase led by Mark Waugh looked set for an interesting finish before Tendulkar snared Steve Waugh and Michael Bevan in a space of 15 balls to build pressure and knock the wind out of Australia’s reply.
Tendulkar in T20s
Though he played just one T20I match and was considered too old for the format by the time it flourished, Tendulkar’s overall performance in the IPL for Mumbai Indians was outstanding in a manner not expected. While in ODI cricket, his hallmark had been strike rate (amongst the highest impact 10 ODI batsmen of all time, Tendulkar’s Strike Rate Impact is second only to Viv Richards’), his strengths in this format were Pressure Impact and low failure rate (consistency). It is interesting how he redefined his role (as the stabiliser) for his franchise in order to still get the best of his waning game, and then executed it so well. In fact, if big match performances are not considered, Tendulkar was the highest impact MI batsman in their entire history of the IPL (with big match performances, a weakness he carried to this format too, he goes down to 5th position on the impact list amongst MI batsmen in the IPL). He was also the 4th-most consistent batsman (low failure rate, as measured by Impact) in the IPL for all teams, a stunning fact.
His highest impact T20 performance typified these qualities – against RR in IPL 2010, he stabilised his team from 12-2 and then 30-3 to bat all 20 overs, and score 89 off 59 balls to help his team post 174 and win easily in the end.
Tendulkar may not even be the highest impact Indian batsman in any of the three formats – Rahul Dravid is in Tests, Virat Kohli in ODIs (for now) and Suresh Raina in T20s (domestic and international combined) but Tendulkar features at no. 2 in the first two formats when it comes to the Impact list and at no. 17 in T20s (no. 8 in the IPL, which is pretty amazing). No other batsman anywhere in the world comes close to being so high impact in even two formats, let alone three. That makes him the most versatile batsman the game has ever seen – the most complete batsman.
(Jaideep Varma, Soham Sarkhel)