Sachin Tendulkar at the MA Chidambaram Stadium: A love story that never gets old

Sachin Tendulkar at the MA Chidambaram Stadium Sachin vs Shane Warne 1998

The pulsating atmosphere of the MA Chidambaram stadium, Chennai really amplifies the feeling of what it means to be in a live wire of an atmosphere.

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India is the home of the great Sachin Tendulkar and without a speck of doubt, it’s a country that takes its gods very seriously.

But few, in mortal form or shape, have enjoyed the kind of recognition and adulation as Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar. 

And while the great batsman widely recognised as the world’s most complete batsman, irrespective of age or era, hails from Mumbai, it’s Chennai with which he holds a massively important connection.

Perhaps it could be argued that one of the most less-visited and understated facts of the great Tendulkar’s career is that it was here in the beating heart of Chennai, i.e., the MA Chidambaram stadium where Sachin scored one of his most vital hundreds, as also one of of his initial ones.

It was at the back of Tendulkar’s genius in the pre-Ganguly, Dravid and Laxman era that India sailed over England to register one of their most vivid triumphs over their colonial masters; through a vital 165 (1992-93), then the third Test ton of his glorious career, Tendulkar ensured that India lorded over the country home to the famous Lord’s. 

But while he would go on to play no fewer than 9 Tests at this famous cricketing venue, now widely recognised as the home of the Chennai Super Kings, the MA Chidambaram stadium experienced peak Tendulkar not before the year 1999.

Frankly speaking, each venue in India is known for being an extension of its prevailing culture.

Delhi is noisy with nothing held back with Mumbai being purely passionate. And while Jaipur offers a cultural extravagance that India has to offer, Chennai with its MA Chidambaram crowd, quite simply, traverses generations and eras; having witnessed the genius of Gundappa Viswanath, Sunny Gavaskar in the yesteryears to the realm of the invincible Tendulkar as seen in the decades that followed.

With the Marina beach being not too far from the pulsating atmosphere of the MA Chidambaram stadium, Chennai really amplifies the feeling of what it means to be in a live wire of an atmosphere.

Just that in the year 1999, with Pakistan crossing to the other side of the border to feature in a bi-lateral series much adored on either side, Chennai really rose to the occasion.

But it was the unwavering genius of the little master, leading the way with an emphatic 155 that ensured that one witnessed a never-to-be-forgotten Test match adventure.

While Pakistan led by the great Wasim Akram prevailed in the end, India may have never come any close to the 271-run ask, a daunting one in those days, had it not been for Tendulkar’s solo heroics.

The timing and the breathtaking ability to find gaps on either side notwithstanding, it was Tendulkar battling not only India’s archrivals but some serious back pain of his own that upheld the importance of his century.

The 155, to this day, scored against an imposing attack featuring timeless greats such as Waqar, Wasim, Saqlain has stood the tough tests of time.

And while there were notable talents such as Azhar and Dravid in the Indian side, it ultimately came down to Tendulkar being the one man army as it was often the case back then to unfurl a truly remarkable hundred.

He really took the attack to the opposition as only he could; driving with each exquisite stroke the impassioned Chennai fans to the edge of their seats.

But what must be truly appreciated is that in the end, the warmth and appreciation echoed by the Chennai fans in a packed MA Chidambaram to Pakistan was rather humbling.

Countless fans gave a standing ovation to Pakistan proving that in the end, Cricket is bigger than an outcome and that there’s nothing bigger than the spirit of unity and that the religion-based divide cannot envelope fans in hatred.

But would all of that have been possible had Pakistan not played to their very best and had Sachin not batted in a way as only the genie with the bat could?

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Cricket is a game played by 22 but opined by millions.Caught At Point will try to inform you and humour you on the game’s newsmakers, trends and, emerging patterns. Expect those deserving praise to be celebrated and expect tons of ‘arsehattery’ gifted to those who’ve earned it.I’ll cricket sincerely,Dev Tyagi

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