Sachin Tendulkar, India’s batting maestro, had given plenty of joy to Indian fans in his magnificent 22-year journey. During the 2011 World Cup, he smashed a century against South Africa in Nagpur. His 111 was his 99th international century and although India lost the match, all eyes were on Tendulkar coming near to a record no cricketer had achieved. The big question on everybody’s mind was: When would the 100th hundred come?
Some were he would bring it up in style in the final against Sri Lanka, but he was dismissed cheaply. However, many people did not fret much as India won the World Cup after 28 years, becoming the first nation to win the World Cup at home. Tendulkar was given a rousing reception, with the Indian players carrying him on his shoulders and doing a victory lap at the ground.
After that, Tendulkar came thrice to achieving the landmark but each time, he failed causing heartbreak to the millions of fans. In 2011, during the Oval Test against England, he was dismissed for 91 while in the Wankhede Test against West Indies, he was dismissed for 94. Twice in the series against Australia, Tendulkar made 73 and 80 but each time, he was dismissed.
After 369 days of heartbreak, Tendulkar finally achieved glory and India had their moment. At Mirpur, even atheists had turned religious. In the 44th over bowled by Shakib Al Hasan, Tendulkar nudged the bowler down to the leg side and the Promised Land had been reached. Sachin Tendulkar finally notched up his 100th international century.
Although Bangladesh won that encounter, it remains memorable for Indians simply because of Tendulkar’s unique feat. His knock, laced with twelve boundaries and a six, was wonderful and it erased all the pains the Indian fans underwent in the last year.
“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. Nobody talked about my 99 hundreds. It became mentally tough for me because nobody talked about my 99 hundreds,” Tendulkar told ESPNCricinfo.
“After scoring 99 tons you are made to realise the value of a hundred,” Tendulkar later added. Those 99 tons didn’t come easy as well. Though with 51 Test centuries he holds the record for the maximum number of tons in the Test and the ODI format, he hadn’t scored a century in his first 78 ODIs.
Some of his finest knocks have been against Australia with the rivalry against Shane Warne making it a memorable affair. The legendary leg-spinner, in fact, mistook him for a 10-year-old when he first saw him in 1991 only to later go on to state that the Indian genius gave him nightmares.
“When I first saw Sachin in 1991 he seemed like a 10-year-old, and he then went on to make an unbelievable hundred. It was only after eight years that I got to play against him in India,” Warne was quoted as saying. “It was a great series. But Tendulkar greeted me by smashing the first ball with a smack down the ground for four. But on the fourth ball Sachin nicked it to slip and it was an incredible moment as the crowd suddenly went quiet.”
“But in the second innings while chasing Sachin scored another hundred which was the best innings that anyone’s ever played against me or the Australian sides I have played in,” Warne added.