1) 119 not out, England v India, Old Trafford, 1990.
In England, this series will always be remembered for Graham Gooch’s 333 in the first Test at Lord’s. But that was not the only remarkable batting feat of the summer. For a 17-year-old playing in alien conditions, and under the most intense pressure, Tendulkar’s century at Old Trafford was arguably even more impressive than Gooch’s achievement. India were struggling to avoid defeat on the final day at 127 for five, but Tendulkar batted for four hours with the tail to guide his side to safety. It was his first Test century, and confirmed the arrival of a special talent.
2) 114, Australia v India, Perth, 1992.
Back in the days before Perth became just another batting track, Australia’s quick men would start salivating as soon as their plane crossed into Western Australia. In 1992, the WACA was as its most lethal, but Tendulkar’s innings of 114 brought Craig McDermott and Merv Hughes to their knees. With wickets tumbling at the other end, Tendulkar, still only 19, met the challenge head on. The Australian public have loved him ever since.
3) 169, South Africa v India, Cape Town, 1997.
Another epic counter-attack in hostile conditions. South Africa racked up 529 in the first innings before their stellar seam attack reduced the tourists to 58 for five. Tendulkar, then approaching his peak, wasted no time in taking the fight back to the Proteas. In partnership with Mohammad Azharuddin, Tendulkar hit 26 boundaries in his century, almost all of them absolute crackers.
4) 155 not out, India v Australia, Chennai, 1998
Many of Tendulkar’s finest innings were played outside of India, or in a losing cause. But his greatest series came at home, against the world’s best team, and ended in a glorious victory. With Shane Warne bowling around the wicket and into the rough, Tendulkar used his eye, his feet and his innovative stroke play to destroy the greatest slow bowler in history. Warne would later admit Tendulkar’s fireworks left him clueless and the Australian named Tendulkar as No 1 in his list of 50 greatest cricketers.
5) 136 v India v Pakistan, Chennai 1999.
India were set an unlikely 271 for victory, which seemed impossible when they collapsed to 82 for five. Chronically hampered by a back injury, Tendulkar stood firm and refused to accept defeat. Through dogged will and astonishing skill, he coaxed India close to the winning line before falling to Saqlain Mushtaq. Tendulkar’s wicket prompted an Indian collapse, and another superhuman effort ultimately ended in defeat.
(C) The Telegraph Group, London, 2008