Probably one of the greatest ODI innings ever played by an Indian batsman, the ‘Desert Storm’ innings of Sachin Tendulkar in Sharjah cup in 1998 inspired many others from the nation to take up cricket as a profession. One such person was Suresh Raina. In one of his recent interviews, he talked about how he bunked his school to watch Sachin play. But his former India teammate and present CSK teammate Harbhajan Singh trolled him for the same citing it as a false story.
In one of his recent interviews, Raina mentioned that he bunked the last two periods of his class on the day ‘The Desert storm’ innings happened.
That innings by Tendulkar on that day changed the way people in India looked at the game of cricket. India had to win that game by a better net run rate to edge out the Kiwis for the final spot of the Sharjah Cup to face mighty Australia in the finals.
“We used to bunk the last two periods of school because the tournament in Sharjah was going on. Sachin paaji used to open in that era. Paaji ki batting hi dekthe the uss time pe, ya Rahul bhai. Paaji out hote the to fir nikal lete the ghar (we used to watch only Sachin’s batting, or Dravid’s; but once Sachin got out, we would leave for home” mentioned Raina.
“Hum chhote choote the (we were just kids). I was just 12 at that time and used to study in seventh standard. Sachin Tendulkar itna bada naam tha (Sachin Tendulkar was a big name)” added Raina.
Raina’s CSK teammate and former India cricketer Harbhajan Singh took a toll on Raina by questioning his class bunking story. Harbhajan, who was part of the Indian squad for that series clarified that the match started at 4 pm Indian Standard time and hence that story was hard to believe.
The storm that shook Sharjah
Irrespective of the truth behind Raina’s story, that innings by Tendulkar inspired a lot of budding cricketers. Even the Indian captain Virat Kohli has once said that it was that innings that gave him the motivation to become one of the best chasers the world cricket has ever seen. On that day Tendulkar defied all odds to make a 131 ball 143 against a strong Australian bowling attack. Thanks to a dessert storm that halted India’s chase at one point, this innings later came to be known as the “Desert storm’ innings.
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