It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to highlight the importance of a century scored in a one-day match. Let’s take Sachin Tendulkar’s 100 not out at Vadodara on January 31 against the West Indies as a pointer. Victory aside, what did the century achieve?
Answer: 1) Defined the innings for 25 overs; 2) With Sachin set, Dravid and Dhoni played their natural game; 3) Increased confidence in the dressing room — even the hapless Irfan Pathan was smiling; 4) Increased frustration in the fielding side as evident by dropped catches, misfields, confused tactics — even Chris Gayle didn’t bowl his full quota; 5) blocked fall of wickets, India losing only three wickets and scoring heavily in the last 10 overs; 6) Man of the Match and Man of the Series for Sachin Tendulkar — prior to this performance, he had scored a sketchy 60-odd runs in a lost game, and scalped three wickets from two games; 7) A new flat screen TV and a bike for Tendulkar.
With a 41st one-day century, Tendulkar gave his thoughts much-needed venting. There’s no better time, after all, to speak publicly than after a well-made hundred.
On the flip side though, despite his ‘comeback hundred’, there now exists an insurmountable gap between Sachin and his once blind-as-a-bat-wearing-shades fan base.
Once upon a time when Sachin Tendulkar scored his magnificent hundreds, you could almost hear him promise us, “For you, a hundred times over.” Everything was so achievable. Remember how Sunil Gavaskar said he would personally spank Sachin if he scored any less than 50 Test centuries. And we all laughed in unison — because we believed in the joke. In fact, we didn’t really think it was a joke at all.
Today, even though most believe that Tendulkar may not score many more 100s, should one doubt his intent? Questioning his intent is a challenge against our belief in Sachin and everything we once believed in. You either take that leap of faith with Tendulkar — or you have never watched Sachin Tendulkar bat on a good day and, thus, your cynicism.