Tendulkar stands tall and alone on this peak

The wait is finally over. Exactly after a year and three days since his 99th hundred against South Africa in Nagpur during a World Cup game on March 12 last, Sachin Tendulkar brought up the much-anticipated 100th international century against Bangladesh in the Asia Cup match in Dhaka on Friday.

That the effort came in a losing cause shouldn’t take any significance away from the achievement. The fact that the second highest century maker is 29 tons behind (Ponting has 71) Tendulkar speaks volumes about the Little Master’s feat. It has of course become fashionable to say ‘when Tendulkar scores a century, India end up losing’ when the truth is otherwise. Of his centuries, 53 have come in India’s wins while 22 have helped India draw or tie a match. That means only on 25 occasions the team has finished on the wrong side of a result.  
Given the nature of the man, there weren’t going to be exaggerated celebrations, but even by Tendulkar’s standards, his reaction upon reaching the milestone was at best muted. Soon after he reached his uncharacteristically constructed hundred (114 off 147b), that marked the greatest piece of cricket statistic, the 38-year-old looked heavenwards and let a sigh of relief. The trace of pain, however, was hard to miss. “Nobody talked about my 99 hundreds,” noted Tendulkar during the innings break obviously referring to the hype surrounding his impending century and the subsequent criticism when he went 33 innings without a triple figure.

Pressure factor

“I was not thinking about the milestone, the media started all this... Wherever I went, the restaurant, room service, everyone was talking about the 100th hundred. It became menatlly tough for me because nobody talked about my 99 hundreds," ahe pointed out with his bitterness obvious.

The right-hander wasn’t too off the mark. A century of centuries is of course a stupendous record to boast of but did Tendulkar, with close to 34000 runs across all formats, need to score 100th hundred to prove his greatness? Certainly it wouldn’t have made him any lesser batsman had he ended his career on 99 centuries.

The Mumbaikar, however, admitted that it was the toughest of centuries.  
“It reminds you that you can’t take anything in life for granted,” noted Tendulkar philosophising the struggles he endured between scoring his 99 and 100th century. “It shows that how tough it is score a century, despite the 99 I have.” 

The 100th ton is a reflective of Tendulkar’s longevity, perseverence and his single-minded dedication towards the game. Despite spending 22 summers of international grind, the maestro maintains the same enthusiasm for the game that he possessed when he started as a chubby 16-year-old.

It’s often said that records are meant to be broken but this one will take some beating to be bettered. Rahul Dravid, who knows a thing or two about batting, summed up his long-time collegue’s latest effort the best way. “Sachin has always made us reassess our boundaries, that’s what he has done throughout his career,” said the Bangalorean in his tribute.

With the monkey off his back, Tendulkar may just prove doubly dangerous.

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