Sachin's ton Everest now peaks at 50

Sachin's ton Everest now peaks at 50

First batsman in the world to record half-century of hundreds

Sachin's ton Everest now peaks at 50

That it came under great pressure, with India fighting for survival against a fired-up South African attack on a track that still holds some terrors, must have given the 37-year-old great satisfaction, because Tendulkar has always prided himself on responding to the needs of the team.

Already in a league of his own, courtesy spectacular accomplishments over a glorious career now into its 22nd year, Tendulkar emphatically laid down the gauntlet by becoming the founding member of the 50-plus club, in the process putting daylight between himself and the rest of the chasing pack.

Like most Tendulkar hundreds in recent times, this was a special knock marked by intelligent planning and exceptional execution. Rolled for 136 in the first innings of the first Test and staring defeat in the face after the South Africans opened up a lead of 484, Tendulkar’s glorious essay restored the credibility of the Indian batting, though the visitors barely managed to push the game into Monday’s final day with defeat a near certainty despite the heroics of the master and skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni. India still trail South Africa by 30 runs with just two wickets in hand after ending day four on 454 for eight.

A capacity holiday crowd should consider itself extremely fortunate to have been witness to a seminal moment in cricketing history. It’s debatable if Tendulkar will have company in the 50-ton club anytime in the near future, given that Ricky Ponting and Jacques Kallis— the leaders of the chasing pack—have 39 and 38 hundreds respectively.

On Sunday, Tendulkar was in control right from the beginning, working out his areas of scoring. South Africa tried every trick in the book, from packing the off-side to subjecting him to a bouncer barrage; Tendulkar had an answer and more to every question, keeping India afloat with his captain for courageous company.

A single to sweeper cover off the best bowler in the world, Dale Steyn, took him to three figures in Test cricket for an incredible 50th time, as the clock ticked over to 4:07 pm local time. His team-mates and the entire stadium stood up to applaud and cherish the moment, with Tendulkar humble as ever in his celebrations.

Earlier this year, Tendulkar became the first man to score a one-day double ton when he made an unbeaten 200, also against South Africa, in Gwalior. His seventh Test hundred of the year on Sunday rounded off a memorable double against the Proteas. Take a bow, master!