Sachin Tendulkar has handled with grace and poise everything that the opposition and circumstances have hurled at him over the past 22 years.
But the pressure of spirit-crushing expectations from his fans over his 100th international ton and the constant media speculation about when he would get it was beginning to show as Tendulkar struggled to get the stupendous feat out of his way.
It finally happened on Saturday against Bangladesh and Tendulkar admitted, without any hesitation, that it had been one of the toughest phases of his career. "The anticipation and disappointment when I didn't get this hundred was way too greater than anything else. I don't know how to explain it to you. I wish there was someone to guide me, about how to deal with this," he said, a day after scoring the most-awaited century.
"It happened for the first time. It has been a tough journey."
This obsession with the impending ton, regardless of how the team fared, had put Tendulkar off. "In Delhi (the first Test against the West Indies) we won that game, but people were only talking about how I missed my ton. That's what a sportsman doesn't want. He just wants to enjoy his game and the success of having done well for the team."
Tendulkar dedicated his ton to elder brother Ajit. "He has guided me throughout and this is something I want to dedicate to him. Whenever I went in to bat, I knew he was always there," he said.