On November 8, 1999 two of Indian cricket’s greatest batsmen – and match-winners each in their own right – etched their names into ODI cricket’s record books with a mammoth partnership that until earlier this year stood unchallenged.
On a lifeless pitch at the Lal Bahadur Shastri Stadium in Hyderabad 16 years ago to the day, Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid forged a second-wicket stand of 331 that remains the second-highest in terms of runs and, until Chris Gayle and Marlon Samuels plundered hundreds against Zimbabwe during the World Cup in February, was the highest for any wicket.
India trailed the series 0-1 after losing the opening game in Rajkot, and things did not start well when Sourav Ganguly was run out for 4 in the second over. In walked Dravid at No 3, who had already crossed 1500 ODI runs for the year and had been India’s batting star at the World Cup in England.
Tendulkar led the initial attack, playing some punchy shots across the field while shoving the pacers off their lines. Slowly at first, Dravid then flourished in the company of Tendulkar the superstar and New Zealand were pushed further and further onto the back foot. Tendulkar sped to his fifty while Dravid nudged the ball around and ran hard between the wickets. As the overs ticked by and the runs flew off the batsmen’s bats, New Zealand spirits slumped further.