A packed Lord's crowd were treated to an unforgettable innings of 125 from Sachin Tendulkar today as Rest of the World pulled off an easy six wicket defeat over the MCC.
The winning runs were struck with six overs still to go but despite the margin of victory, the match proved one of the most exciting contests of the season with two sensational centuries hit in a day.
In control from the start, Tendulkar, captain of the Rest of the World side, became more magical with every runs added. None of the bowlers were spared with Pakistani Aamir Sohail coming in for a special roasting. Off one over, Tendulkar whipped the ball all over the ground for 22 runs, hitting 4,6,4,0,6,2 to move to 95.
The century, which came off Sohail's next over was struck off 94 balls and featured 12 fours and three massive sixes and was one of the most memorable hundreds an English crowd would have witnessed in a while.
Aravinda de Silva was proving equally classy and entertaining at the other end and his half-century was completed with seven fours off 57 balls featuring some of the hardest struck drives of the day.
Having put on 150 between them, the pair - arguably the two best batsmen in the world - looked set to take Rest of the World easily to the target of 262. They were 231 for two in the 38th over, needing another 32 for victory when Tendulkar missed a delivery from Anil Kumble, which ended up whacking into his middle stump.
The former Indian captain had made a truly outstanding 125 and his exit was accompanied by a standing ovation reflecting the pleasure his 114 ball innings had given the 30,000 crowd.
His partnership with de Silva had added 177 runs and was a demonstration of batting at its best, as Chanderpaul had provided earlier in the day with his 127 not out.
But de Silva lasted just three more overs before he was brilliantly caught and bowled by Glenn McGrath for 82 off 79 balls.
Twenty-two runs were still needed off nine overs and although the task posed few challenges, the fall of two quick wickets created a noticeable buzz around the ground.
Two new batsmen Graeme Hick of England and his Worcestershire team mate Tom Moody of Australia took up the mantle and needed to take few risks to complete the victory.
They duly achieved the win in the 44th over with Hick driving emphatically for four to get the winning runs ending the innings unbeaten on 21.