Sachin Tendulkar became the first cricketer to score 30,000 international runs |  Photo Credit: PTI
It was 20th November 2009. Ahmedabad had presented a batting paradise, on which two prolific teams were doing battle in an engrossing test-match. The fifth day had arrived, and Sri Lanka were on the cusp of accomplishing something special. After Rahul Dravid and MS Dhoni scored centuries, propelling India to a fine first innings total of 426, Sri Lanka responded with ferocity putting up a colossal total of 726/7 (declared) on the board. Mahela Jayawardena’s stellar double century had been the highlight of the game until the fifth day, that promised something even more special.
A first-innings lead of 334 for Sri Lanka meant that there could have only one winner from that position. India ended day 4 with an overnight score of 190/2. Night-watchman Amit Mishra continued his gritty innings on the final day, before Tillakaratne Dilshan took a blinder at gully. In walked the Master Blaster Sachin Tendulkar, for another tryst with destiny. The legend had just completed a staggering twenty-year period in international cricket, with a plethora of records to show in his scintillating career. He was 35 runs short of another arguably unsurpassable record- 30,000 international runs. The record, though might have been secondary in his mind, as his foremost task was to save the game for his team.
Gautam Gambhir fetched himself a well-deserved century, and Sachin too got going almost immediately. After Gambhir got out tamely to Rangana Herath, Sachin endured a few testing moments. He was just a hit away from the massive landmark, but he took his time getting there. Muttiah Muralidharan, the highest wicket-taker, bowling to the highest run-scorer was a face-off for the ages.
Finally, in the 89th over bowled by Chanaka Welegedara, Sachin clipped an in-swinger towards deep-square leg for a single to reach that astonishing figure. Celebrations were mute, but the legend would have calmly patted himself from within. He scored an unbeaten hundred in that innings of exceptional poise, and saved the game for India.
Sachin’s 88th international hundred was replete with all the qualities one had come associate with the stalwart for over two decades. His fitness and resolve remained omnipotent, and he remained India’s middle-order mainstay in the longest format for four more years after that game. Needless to stay, records kept tumbling by the side. Most number of international centuries, highest run-scorer in World Cup cricket (the Cup above all), first batsman to score an ODI double hundred and many more.
On that day, 20 November 2009, Sachin had created a gulf between himself and other contemporaries. He was the first man to reach the coveted landmark of Mt. 30,000 and even 11 years later, remains the only one to have crossed that barrier. Kumar Sangakkara ended his career positioned second on that illustrious list, trailing Sachin by over six thousand runs. Such records do suggest that the maestro from Mumbai batted in a league of his own, and attest to all the glorious tales surrounding his career. He had contemplated retirement at several stages, but he never gave up on his dreams.
It remains to be seen if anyone surpasses the legend’s dubious record, but Sachin has safely etched for himself a place in social memory and cricketing folklore.