Sachin’s century of centuries
Indian batting superstar Sachin Tendulkar last week became the first cricketer in history to score 100 international centuries, reaching a new record in his glittering two-decade career.
Tendulkar, who turns 39 next month, achieved the feat with a century in a one-day Asia Cup match against Bangladesh at the Sher-e-Bangla stadium in Dhaka, ending a nervous wait of more than a year for millions of fans.
The Mumbai batsman, who has compiled more Test and one-day runs than anyone in history, reached the milestone with a single and marked the moment with a modest glance to the sky while pointing to the Indian flag on his helmet.
Tendulkar, already a legend of the modern era and one of the greats of all time, made 114 off 147 balls with 12 fours and a six, before he was caught behind off seamer Mashrafe Mortaza in the 47th over.
“It has not sunk in yet, but I have definitely lost 50kg,” he told the Neo Cricket channel, which is broadcasting the Asia Cup matches.
“I was not thinking about the milestone. The media started all this. In the restaurant, room service, everyone was talking about the 100th hundred.”
Tendulkar is the most capped player in the history of the game with 188 Test and 462 one-day appearances since making his debut as a teenager against Pakistan in Karachi in November 1989.
He has scored 49 one-day hundreds and 51 centuries in Test matches.
The father of two, known variously as the “Little Master” or “Bombay Blaster”, is worshipped as a demi-god in his cricket-crazy country and has barely put a foot wrong since 1989 when he burst on the world stage, aged 16.
“I join the nation in congratulating Sachin Tendulkar on his making history – 100 centuries. He has made India proud,” Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said as the country celebrated.
He scored his 99th ton during a World Cup match against South Africa in Nagpur on March 12 last year, but failed to add to the tally on subsequent tours of England and Australia and a home series against the West Indies.
Tendulkar said it had been a long wait for the milestone.
“This has been a tough phase for me ... I started off the season batting reasonably well, but I was luckless. It does not matter how many hundreds you have, you still have to grind it out. This was difficult to understand because nobody talked about my 99 hundreds.”
Asked if he had any advice for youngsters, Tendulkar said: “Enjoy the game and chase your dreams. I waited for 22 years to realise a dream ... that of winning the World Cup.”
International Cricket Council president Sharad Pawar and chief executive Haroon Lorgat lauded the Mumbai batsman’s feat.
“You have made India and the game of cricket proud in accomplishing this milestone,” Pawar, a former Indian cricket chief, said in a message to Tendulkar. “Your achievement speaks volumes of your dedication to this great game. I am sure your illustrious career will be written in golden letters in the history of cricket and will serve as a beacon of inspiration for many generations of cricketers to follow.”
Lorgat described Tendulkar as a “role model who will undoubtedly hold a special place in cricket’s history”.
Praise for Tendulkar also came from the United States, not a country known for its interest in cricket.
Robert Blake, the US assistant secretary of state for South Asia, congratulated Tendulkar on Twitter for the “remarkable milestone for one of the world’s great sportsmen”.
Indian cricket chief Narayanaswamy Srinivasan said Tendulkar “strode cricketing arenas the world over like a colossus” ever since his debut in 1989.
Former England skipper Nasser Hussain, who was in New Delhi yesterday, told reporters that Tendulkar had secured his place at the top of the all-time list. “Sir Donald Bradman was great but for me the greatest batsman to have ever played the game is Sachin Tendulkar,” Hussain said.
Former Australian captain Ricky Ponting is the second batsman on the all-time list with 71 international centuries.