It was a pretty long wait. Probably the new hairstyle brought luck. Probably it was the discipline, the determination, or the sheer urge to prove just to himself he is still there.
What came out on Friday was a mix of patience and class, grit and flamboyance, sometimes mundane, at times
ethereal. The capacity holiday crowd at the Sher-e Bangla National Stadium witnessed a feat that will in time add to the country's list of folklores.
Sachin Tendulkar reacts after scoring his hundredth century during the Asia Cup cricket match against Bangladesh at the Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium in Dhaka . AFP/Munir uz Zaman
There was something in Sachin Tendulkar's typically uninhibited laugh he had with Virat Kohli in the middle after the over when he hit Shakib Al Hasan for a six over wide long-on. The three initial boundaries penetrating packed off-side fields must have given him the feel. He had scored so many before, but this was going to be the final step on the highest point. And he rose.
Rarely does he take off his helmet during an innings. He did. Calmly, he finished a banana and consumed as much fluid he could during the drinks break. He was going to need all the energy.
Unbeaten on 83 with India on 164 for 1, a maiden over to the wily Mashrafe Motraza in which a cut fell short of point and there were a couple of 'yes' and 'nos' raised anxiety.
Sensing their chance, Bangladesh began to tighten the noose. A rare Indian flag was quickly put aside as the mandatory batting Powerplay approached. A wicket seemed around the corner and it fell as Kohli chopped one onto the stumps in the first over with the field in. But he carried on at the other end, in singles and an occasional boundary, negating risks.
It took the spectators some time to realise what had unfolded in front of them. They had come to see Bangladesh upset India. As the stadium gave a standing ovation, the man himself remained calm. Flicking one to square-leg for a single, he stood there. He slowly took off his helmet, looked to the heavens as he has done after passing milestones and then raised his bat and helmet. Suddenly he turned to the dressing room and pointed to the crest on his helmet with the handle of his bat.
As he took the long walk back, after edging to the 'keeper, his teammates lined up on either side of the dressing room entrance to congratulate him. He went in, slightly disappointed, but proud. People we call legends are intrinsically proud. They constantly want to make sure it is not hurt and we get richer in the process.