The sun shone at Stormont yesterday but there was nothing brighter than Sachin Tendulkar's sparkling innings as India, with a six wickets win, levelled the three-match Future Cup series with South Africa at 1-1.
For the second successive time, the Indian maestro was cut short in the 90s but this was a much more fluent and classy exhibition than he served, first up, against the South Africans on Tuesday. The lucky spectators were also present to see Tendulkar become the first batsman to score 15,000 runs in one-day internationals, reaching the landmark with the single which brought up his 79th ODI 50.
The best was yet to come as he pulled the rookie off spinner, Thandi Tshabalala for a six which had the crowd at the mid-off boundary running for cover and he followed up with two more fours in an over which cost 14. Suddenly the £35 admission money appeared a bargain.
This was batsmanship of the highest calibre and he was doing it in only his third match in Ireland. Sachin moved serenely into the 90s, playing as if his 42nd century was a formality but, suddenly he went into his shell, played defensively to four balls from Tshabalala and when he went back to cut the fifth, he got the bottom edge and the ball rebounded onto his stumps. Even those with South Africa shirts on were disappointed the innings had come to a premature close. In his 93 he hit 13 fours and two sixes.
On the day, just about everything else paled in comparison, yet Tendulkar must have been pushed hard for the man of the match award by Yuvraj Singh. The Little Master's wicket fell in the middle of a mini collapse - India losing four wickets for eight runs in 28 balls - and it was Yuvraj who saw them home with an unbeaten 49, after coming on as his side's seventh bowler and taking three for 36.
In overcast conditions at the start of the day, it was always going to be difficult for the South Africa batsmen, after Jacques Kallis lost the toss, and with AB de Villiers and the captain back in the pavilion inside six overs, the Proteas were seven for two. It wasn't much better when Herschelle Gibbs, still struggling for form, was caught off a long-hop with the total on 46 but a partnership of 85 between Morne van Wyk and JP Duminy launched the recovery.
Enter Yuvraj and with his third ball he made the breakthrough, with Duminy, the best of South Africa's young batsmen, caught at short third man for 40. Van Wyk made a patient and safe 82, from 126 balls with just eight boundaries, but he too fell to Yuvraj with nine overs remaining.
Mark Boucher, with a run-a-ball 55, took over from the former Instonians batsman but with only 226 on the board, South Africa knew they would have to take 10 wickets to win the match and the series. Just 28 overs later, India were 134 for no wicket and coasting. Tendulkar was in full flow and on this day of all days, he was not going to finish on the losing side.
Fortunately for the spectators who should flock in greater numbers tomorrow for the decider, Sachin is still looking for his first hundred of the tour and, on yesterday's evidence, he looks as determined as ever.
Scores: South Africa 226-6 (50 overs, M van Wyk 82, M Boucher 55 not out, JP Duminy 40, Yuvraj Singh 3-36) India 227-4 (49.1 overs, S Tendulkar 93, Yuvraj Singh 49 not out, S Ganguly 42, D Karthik 32; C Langeveldt 2-43).