Sachin declares his ODI innings over
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These unreal numbers that seem unattainable today were unimaginable when Tendulkar first played an ODI as a 17-year-old at Gujranwala, Pakistan, in 1989. The ODI record holders of that era were Alan Border (Most matches: 192), Vivian Richards (Most runs: 6,442), Desmond Haynes (Most hundreds: 16). Tendulkar's impact on ODIs and how high he took the bar during his time in coloured clothing can be understood by comparing the two set of un-matching numbers. Between 1989 to 2012, the record books saw 192 grow to 463, 6,442 to 18,426 and 16 to 49.
The story of ODIs and the Tendulkar tale have run parallel. The 50-over format topped the popularity charts in '90s, the period Tendulkar was in peak form. He grew up from a teen prodigy to India's Man Friday and his run tally swelled by close to 9,000 runs. He became the highest run-getter in the 1996 World Cup and the year 1998 saw him score 1,894 runs, a calendar record streak no one has matched till date. India lost every other game in the '90s (they had a 50 per cent win-loss record in ODIs back then) but the hope of a Tendulkar special, a regular affair then, kept the disillusionment away and the fans interested.
The turn of the century saw sporadic highs for both — the ODIs and Tendulkar. The T20 discovery and instant exceptiblity pushed the ODIs to the background while the 30-plus star shared the burden and the spotlight with younger stroke makers around him. But there were days when ODIs and Tendulkar would make the upstarts seem pale and out-of-depth. His double hundred in 2010, the first ever in the 50-over format, and the World Cup triumph next year were the highs that even the phenomenal '90s couldn't match. They were to be the missing pieces of a colossal jigsaw that had been magically growing for over two decades.