On August 14, 1990, a 17-year-old scored the sixth century of what turned out to be a memorable Test match at Old Trafford. It also happened to be the most brilliant of them all, coming as it did from a cherubic batsman in his teens and helping India secure a draw when defeat looked the most likely outcome. The batsman was Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar, and the century was his first at international level.
It was, in all means of the word, an outstanding innings. India had been set 408 to win against a bowling attack featuring Devon Malcolm, Angus Fraser and Eddie Hemmings. They proceeded to lose Navjot Sidhu (0), Ravi Shastri (12), Sanjay Manjrekar (50) and Dilip Vengsarkar (32). Tendulkar walked out at the fall of Vengsarkar's wicket with India 109 for 4. His skipper, Mohammad Azharduddin, was at the crease with only Kapil Dev and Kiran More to follow as recognised batsman. It was Tendulkar's ninth Test.
Azharuddin departed for 11 at 127 for 5, bringing out Kapil. He and the young Tendulkar put on 56 before Kapil danced out to Hemmings and was bowled for 26. Manoj Prabhakar joined Tendulkar at 183 for 6 with two and a half hours left to save the Test. On 10, Tendulkar was given a slice of luck when Hemmings dropped a simple return catch. The teenager never looked back.
Playing with a straight bat and with determination and application of a maturity that put to shame his illustrious batting team-mates, Tendulkar batted 224 minutes and 189 deliveries for an unbeaten 119 that, along with Prabhakar's dogged 67 not out, helped India claim a famous draw. That he did so wearing an old pair of pads given to him by Sunil Gavaskar was poignant, for it was that very man's record of most Test centuries that Tendulkar would go on to break. Along the way, he became India's most famous batsman since Gavaskar too. The sight of Tendulkar, 5ft 5 in tall, taking on Fraser and Malcolm with punchy shots of the back foot was remarkable. The image of his Power bat pinging the ball to the extra cover boundary still resounds.
In reaching three figures at the age of 17 years and 112 days, Tendulkar was only 30 days older than Mushtaq Mohammad was when he became the youngest player to score a Test hundred. That was the first of Tendulkar's 14 Man-of-the-Match awards in Test cricket.
Indian cricket was never the same again. Ninety-nine international hundreds and 23 years later, Tendulkar is still playing for India. And he still has that Power bat.
Click here for highlights of Tendulkar's 119* at Old Trafford.