We waited for over three years for one of the modern-day greats Virat Kohli to score a century. While the wait for Sachin Tendulkar to go from 99 to 100 tons was not as long, it certainly felt so. By his own admission, his 100th century was the toughest of the lot. This coming from a man whose tennis elbow put his career in jeopardy, he played and scored in a World Cup century just days after his father’s death.
“I have to admit I am relieved now. When I got my 99th hundred against South Africa in World Cup, no one spoke about my 100th hundred. The 100th hundred was not that easy. Possibly, the toughest one,” he had said.
Tendulkar scored his 97th, 98th and 99th century in the 2011 World Cup. As soon as he reached the three-figure mark against South Africa in Nagpur, all eyes were on his 100th. Getting to the landmark in a World Cup final on his home ground would have been the perfect fairytale for the batting maestro. But it wasn’t to be.
In the 34 innings that followed, there were a couple of 90s, couple of 80s and also 70s. Every time Tendulkar would look to be in the zone, a nation held its breath as they believed that the historic feat was not far away.
The moment finally came against Bangladesh in the Asia Cup on March 16, 2012. The relief when he got to the landmark was visible. He removed his helmet and pointed to the India flag on his helmet with the handle of his bat as the dressing room, the crowd and also the opposition burst into applause. A feat that no player had ever achieved and perhaps would take a really long time for someone to replicate it. For now, there seems to be no player in sight.
Kohli with 75 tons is a distant second, and after his drought, it now looks like Tendulkar could potentially hang on to the record for many, many years to come.
India went into the game after beating Sri Lanka in the first game of the competition, with Tendulkar contributing just six of the 304 runs. Bangladesh, on the other hand, had lost to Pakistan.
It was a must-win game for the hosts. They had decided to bowl first in their crucial game against India. Tendulkar held one end up as fifties from Kohli (66) and Suresh Rain (51) took India to a decent total of 289 for 5 on a good batting surface.
Bangladesh put up a strong batting show. Three of their top four scored fifties, while Shakib Al Hasan (49) and Mushfiqur Rahum (46*) finishing things off for their team as the Tigers registered a five-wicket victory.
While many thought Tendulkar would walk away when he reached the milestone, he went on to play for another 18 months. He retired from ODIs in December 2012, with the game against Pakistan, following the Bangladesh game being his final appearance in the format.
Tendulkar retired for good in front of his home ground at the Wankhede, following his 200th Test – yet another feat unlikely to be breached.
You name any batting record, you would find the genius batter among one of the players on top of that list. 11 years on from his historic 100th international ton and nearly 10 years since he last weaved his magic on the field, Tendulkar’s legacy continues to live on.
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