Sachin Tendulkar went where no cricketer has ever gone before when he scored his 50th Test century on Sunday, displaying a typical sense of occasion to lift a downcast team struggling to avoid an innings defeat, and the hopes of millions of cricket fans.
Coming 20 years after he made his first century as a 17-year-old against England at Old Trafford in 1990, Sachin's 50th ton was a testimony to his career longevity and enduring class.
It is hard to believe that the first century was made when his good friends and great contemporaries Brian Lara and Shane Warne had not made their debuts, while Jaidev Unadkat, the youngest in the current Indian team who made his debut in Centurion, was not even born. Ishant Sharma was just one year old when Tendulkar made his Test debut in November 1989 against Pakistan.
Apart from stacking up one record after another, Tendulkar has shown the capacity for remaining an enduring symbol of hope for an India on the move.
His appeal has in a sense been the great constant even as the game morphed around him and India mushroomed. Tendulkar has pretty much dominated every great bowler of his time, at home and abroad. His classy technique won the ultimate kudos when Don Bradman said Tendulkar's shots reminded him of his own.
Warne and Lara have showered effusive praise on him, and his single-minded focus and motivation in the game. He has scooped up almost every batting record. His 50th Test century stretched his own record further. He has also played the most Test matches, holds the mark for the highest aggregate.
At second place, Australian skipper Ricky Ponting is well behind with 39 Test centuries while South African all-rounder Jacques Kallis notched his 38th in Centurion. Tendulkar has enjoyed a magnificent 2010.
Handling expectations is something Tendulkar has done admirably for the last 21 years. After all, a nation's pulse resounds to his beat.