The sun didn't shine much on Saturday but the son did. May 18 was the eighth death anniversary of Ramesh Tendulkar. A day later, his son, Sachin, scripted a dedication for him - a 36 th Test hundred.
A few minutes before Tendulkar scored a century on a rain-marred second day of India's first Test against Bangladesh, Sourav Ganguly too completed his century. It was his 13 th in Tests. The two put on 189 for the fourth wicket before perishing to identical shots, top-edging pulls off away going deliveries soon after crossing hundred. Ganguly scored 100, Tendulkar a run more.
On a day in which five hours of play were lost to rain and only 20 overs bowled, India finished at 384 for six. Mahendra Singh Dhoni (36) and Anil Kumble (1) were at the crease. The weather has hampered India's chances of victory because the pitch is slow too. Tendulkar, though, said a win was still possible.
Ganguly's century signal was ebullient - he raised both hands and punched the air. Tendulkar's - in keeping with his personality and private grief - was subdued. He looked skyward and raised his bat briefly. It was only when he spoke about his father in the press conference that the outside world came to know about it.
"Do you wish to dedicate this century to someone?" a journalist asked. Tendulkar paused, as he often does, then answered, "Yes. I want to dedicate it to my father. Yesterday was his eighth death anniversary, so it was an emotional moment."
Tendulkar and Ganguly may have celebrated their hundreds in different ways but both must have been united in relief. This was Ganguly's first century since the controversial Harare Test in September 2005, where he revealed that Greg Chappell had asked him to step down as captain and focus on batting. Tendulkar's century was his first after a gap of 18 innings, the longest of his career. His last, of course, was the world record 35 th against Sri Lanka in New Delhi in December 2005.
The sentimental reasons that galvanized Tendulkar's innings and the presence in the stadium of the same cricket Board officials who had rested him and Ganguly for the one-dayers made their performance special, even if the opposition was weak.
Asked if he had a point to prove, Tendulkar said, "No. Not after 17 years of playing cricket." He reiterated how the cocoon of his stable family life guarded him against external storms and helped him stay calm.
"My close friends, wife, brother, mother, kids…they are extremely supportive," he said to a question on whether the criticism after the World Cup and the extreme reactions of fans affected him. "I just concentrate on my game."
Tendulkar also revealed that he met his coach, Ramakant Achrekar, before this tour. It was one of the things that helped him invigorate himself after the World Cup disappointment.
No discussion about coach yet
Tendulkar said that the Board and the players had yet to meet in connection with the appointment of the new Indian coach.
"We haven't spoken about it yet but I'm sure that they will take the players' inputs when they make the decision," Tendulkar said.