Is Sachin's worst phase over?
An improved record and a relief. That is what this century would bring to Sachin Tendulkar, writes Atul Sondhi.cricket Updated: May 19, 2007 18:03 IST
Even if it is against Bangladesh, a century is a century and a record is a record. After repeated battles with the self, Sachin has finally managed to reach the 36th century landmark which will have helped erase quite a few disappointments. The disappointment of failing in the World Cup, the disappointment of not scoring a Test century for 16 months, the disappointment of recurring health problems, and the extremely disappointing years of 2005 and 2006.
Longest streak without a century
If there has been a real drought in Sachin's career, it has been the current one. Not just in terms of innings, but also in terms of months taken. It took him such a long period between December 2005 to May 2007 to get to the coveted mark. After a long injury break, Sachin did look like getting it right in the South African series, a tough one by any standards, but failed to convert his two sixties into hundreds.
The wait of 13 innings before his first century should not matter much, as Tendulkar in 1989-90 season was a rookie, a prodigious talent waiting to erupt. However, the wait of another 13 innings between his 31st and 32nd century was a disturbing pointer to the shape of things to come.
Tendulkar's second longest wait
It was November 2002 at Eden Gardens in Kolkata against the West Indies. Tendulkar had scored his 31st century - a tremendous knock of 176 which alongwith Laxman's 154 had helped India salvage a draw against the West Indies after conceding a lead of 139.
However, the next century, after 13 innings and an average of 19.46, came only in January 2004 Sydney Test against Australia. Again a big knock of 241 not out, which would have ensured a first ever series win for India in Australia but for some insipid bowling and the Aussie grit. This was his longest wait of 13 months between two centuries.
This century should be an encouragement to improve on the recent performances. Two centuries and five fifties since Pakistan visited India in 2005 are certainly not good enough. One 50+ score in every fourth innings is not what one expects from India's premier batsman. A batsman, who many believe, is still good enough to last at least two years more.
Sachin's masterly display against Bangladesh does give one confidence that by the time the series ends, the record will show much improvement. If that happens, it will augur well for India for a season with some grueling battles lined up with Australia and England.