Bengaluru, March 27: This day - March 27 - will forever be special in India's cricket history. A sunny day at Auckland 26 years ago, changed how India approached ODI cricket with the walking in of Sachin Tendulkar as opener.
It was not a decision made by choice but rather forced upon the Indian team management as regular opener Navjot Singh Sidhu woke up with a stiff neck and was ruled out of the second ODI against New Zealand.
The Indian bowlers enjoyed the slightly dampish pitch at the Eden Park and skittled New Zealand for a well below par 142. Chris Harris top-scored with an unbeaten 50 but there was nothing of note from other batsmen as they crumbled against Kapil Dev, Javagal Srinath, Salil Ankola and Rajesh Chauhan.
The makeshift decision to given Tendulkar the totem pole position paid off brilliantly as he hammered a 49-ball 82 with 15 four and two sixes. The Kiwi pacers Danny Morrison (8-0-46-0), Chris Pringle (6-1-41-1) and Gavin Larsen (2-0-24-0) were taken to cleaners as India overhauled the target in just 23.2 overs.
It gave India a new route map to ODI cricket. They made Tendulkar open regularly thereon and the Mumbaikar went on to become the most successful batsman in the history of ODI cricket. In the years to come, he had several partners at the top, NS Sidhu, Ajay Jadeja, Manoj Prabhakar, Sourav Ganguly, Virender Sehwag to name a few and Tendulkar was the rock around India's top order was built for the next two decades.
Tendulkar ended his ODI career with a record 18426 runs from 463 ODIs with 49 hundreds 96 fifties. He was also a useful stop-gap bowler in ODIs taking 154 wickets with his mixed-bag of off-spin, seam-up and occasional leg-spin.
Brief scores: New Zealand: 142 all out in 49.4 overs (Chris Harris 50 (n.o). Adam Parore 23; Kapil Dev 2-18, J Srinath 2-17, Salil Ankola 2-27, Rajesh Chauhan 3-43) lost to India: 143/3 in 23.2 overs (Sachin Tendulkar 82, Vinod Kambli 21; Chris Pringle 1-41, Matthew Hart 1-19, Chris Harris 1-13).