It’s the kind of moment dreams are made of. You’re batting in your first Test, the man at the other end when you score a 100 is the world’s greatest cricketer and, together, you save the match and possibly, the series.
Just after Suresh Raina, the apprentice, became the 12th Indian to score a Test century on debut, Sachin Tendulkar, the master, met him in the middle for a chat on Day 4 of the second Test against Sri Lanka. “All I told him was to enjoy this moment,” Tendulkar, en route to his fifth double ton, also surpassing Sir Don Bradman’s mark of 18 Test scores above 150 runs along the way, said later.
Tendulkar told the Ghaziabad-based Raina that he had "earned something special".
"This will always be a highlight of your career. You will have many more hundreds, you will achieve many more things in your life, but this will always be something special."
"I was very happy for him," Tendulkar added. "Many guys doubted whether Suresh was a good Test player or not. He has done well, I am very pleased. The way he batted was fantastic."
Even given the fact that the Sinhalese Sports Club ground was a batter's happy hunting ground, Tendulkar (203) and Raina's (120) 256-run stand in India's first innings was significant. First, it staved off the fear of a follow-on after Sri Lanka massive total of 642 for 4 declared, and then it helped India gain a first innings lead. Most importantly, this partnership could prove vital in India retaining their No 1 ranking at the end of the series, if they manage to pull back in the third and final Test, with this one sure to end in a draw on Friday.
But as Raina entered the team hotel on Thursday evening, the ranking or even the future wasn't on his mind. He was just celebrating the moment. "I am very happy to have scored a century on debut. This is a great day for me," Raina told Hindustan Times. He also became the only Indian to score a century in all three formats of the game.
"I want to thank all my seniors," he added. "I hope it continues in the same vein. The state of the match was difficult and it was important to have a big partnership, so I'm glad I stayed there."
Tendulkar, meanwhile, wasn't even aware that he had surpassed another of The Don's feats. "I'm not feeling anything special… it's always good to get runs and I thank God for everything he has given me," he said.