Friday, March 16, 2012

Sachin Tendulkar gets his ton of tons

It's here at last. After a year of keeping India waiting, Sachin Tendulkar has scored his 100th international ton. 

An entire nation heaved a collective sigh and uncrossed its fingers.

The 100th Sachin ton came against Bangladesh during the fourth match of the Asia Cup on Friday. Fittingly, or perhaps sensing that history could be made today, a huge crowd gathered at the Shere Bangla National Stadium to witness the master blaster go where no cricketer has gone before.

He took his time as everyone stopped breathing. Especially at 99. First a Suresh Raina single took him to the non-batting end as an over ended. Ten runs came off that over before Sachin got strike. He played two balls for no runs and the over changed again. No one exhaled. So it was Raina on strike again, who took a single on the third ball to give strike to Sachin. The stadium roared. Shakib Al Hasan, now a firm part of history, came in to bowl and Sachin took a single to score his ton of tons.

Then the quintessential Sachin moment. Sachin took off his helmet looked at his bat, then heavenwards.

Of his 100 international tons, Sachin has scored 51 in Tests and 49 ODIs. It took Sachin 188 Tests and 462 ODIs to get to this landmark. Sachin, who is now 38-years-old, made his debut at the age of 16 in 1989.

It has been a classic Sachin innings so far; easy strokes as he has piled on the runs. The veteran batsman took on the Bangladeshi bowling with confidence and reached the milestone using 138 balls and smashing 10 boundaries and a six en route. During the knock he also became the first batsman to hit over 2,000 boundaries in One Day Internationals.

The buzz around Sachin's record ton of tons had begun as early as the World Cup last year, but despite numerous opportunities, he was unable to reach the three-figure mark. Sachin opted to play the Asia Cup after a less than average outing in the CB Series in Australia.

His last international century came during the World Cup against South Africa on March 12, 2011.  It took him 34 innings, include thirteen ODI innings, to get to his most awaited century.

Mirpur, Bangladesh got lucky that Sachin chose to play his 462nd ODI here.

On Friday, he made use of both singles and the occasional boundary to pulverise the Bangladesh bowlers. 

The bowling was ordinary and the ground fielding was equally ordinary as the home crowd battled with mixed emotions - watching a master at work with his willow and looking at the host team suffering on the field. Shahadat Hossain was dispatched to mid-wicket fence while Mahmudullah found out bowling short to a legend in the game, even if close on the heels of a milestone, will not be spared.

Tendulkar opened the innings with Gautam Gambhir (11) and despite losing him early, the veteran batsman negotiated the attack with characteristic ease.

This after Mushfiqur Rahim asked the opposition to bat again after winning his second toss of the tournament on a dry-looking pitch that was expected to aid spin.