It is a century of tons for Tendulkar
The star batsman first looked heavenwards and then acknowledged the cheers of his teammates and the crowd by lifting his bat. It was the end of a long wait for the 38-year-old veteran, who had gone 33 innings and a year without a century. The right-hander made his 99th international ton in a World Cup match against South Africa in Nagpur on March 12.
Since then it had been an agonising wait for the maestro, whose every inning was watched with anticipation. He came close on quite a few occassion only to miss the milestone so much so that it became a huge monkey on his back and an unwanted distraction during every series that India played.
He was woefully out of form during India`s Test and ODI whitewash at the hands of England last year and though he recovered quite a bit in the later series, the hundred was still not coming. He carried the weight of expectation to what turned out to be a horror tour of Australia. Tendulkar seemed to be in good touch during the Tests but his form waned after he missed the 100th hundred despite coming close a few times.
Following this, he made himself available for the ODI tri-series against Sri Lanka and Australia but there too, the milestone proved elusive. But the wait finally ended in familiar sub-continental environs. With an over two decade long career, records are fairly routine for Tendulkar but for the cricketing fraternity every run he scores just adds to the legend that the diminutive right-hander has become.
The champion batsman has perhaps every batting record that is there to be taken under his belt and adding to the countless tally is the historic hundred he scored against England in the post-lunch session. Much before his debut on November 15, 1989, Tendulkar`s precocious talent was there to be seen when he shared an unbeaten 664-run stand with buddy Vinod Kambli in the Lord Harris Shield Inter-School Game in 1988.
The 1989 international debut was far less spectacular, in fact forgettable. A Waqar Younis bouncer left him with a bleeding nose but Tendulkar did not wince and the next two decades saw him punishing bowlers all over the world on all kind of surfaces. His first Test century came in England next year at Old Trafford and the Mumbaikar rose in stature after the 1991-92 tour of Australia, hitting sublime centuries on a Sydney turner and a Perth minefield.
The rest is history. No existing batting record seemed safe. Other than Brian Lara`s Test match highest of 400 not out and first class highest score of 501 not out, every batting record became Tendulkar`s. A staggering 15470 runs scored in 188 Tests at a robust average of 55.44 confirmed Tendulkar`s greatness in the longer version of the game. And in the 462 ODIs he played, a whopping 18,260 (before the Asia Cup match against Bangladesh) were added to his mountain of runs at an average of 44.64.