The India players had picked up Sachin Tendulkar on their shoulders for a victory lap around the Wankhede Stadium. But with the Indian Premier League beginning just days later India’s 28-year wait for the World Cup never really precipitated. The team had said they won it for Tendulkar, but the man himself got too busy with his next assignment, the Mumbai Indians.
Away from home, reaching a milestone seemingly unattainable, Tendulkar seemed dazed. All achievements have a numbing effect. For Tendulkar who had to wait for 33 attempts to reach that, relief was yet to take over. “It hasn't sunk in as yet, but I have definitely lost about 50kilos,” he said with a sheepish smile after completing a century of centuries against Bangladesh in their Asia Cup match on Friday.
“Obviously I can't think of anything at this stage. It has been a tough phase for me. I had begun the season well. It was especially tough as I was doing reasonably well in Australia but at times felt I was a little unlucky,” he said.
Things began to get tougher after returning to the subcontinent. Cricket is a religion here and Tendulkar has been elevated to the status of a demigod. So wherever he went, simple questions added to the pressure.
“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. It became mentally tough for me because nobody talked about my 99 hundreds,” he said a touch of remorse in his voice.
The wicket at the Sher-e Bangla National Stadium was docile, but with the ball not coming on, it was difficult to score freely. There were phases where Tendulkar looked bogged down and superb ground fielding by Bangladesh did not help the scoring rate. A 147-ball 114 is obviously slow by his standards and he perished after trying to reduce the gap. “It was difficult because the ball was not coming on to the bat,” he said.