Cricket World Rewind: #OnThisDay - Tendulkar's 100th hundred
March 16, 2012 - Sachin Tendulkar's 100th international ton and the 33-innings drought that preceded it conveyed that even the 'God of Cricket' can't always rack up a three-digit score for fun.
When you think of it - 100 international centuries - is seems so unreal, so unrealistic, so surreal. Especially, while you are in the midst of a fierce spell in Test cricket, facing the maestros, and there are times when even the best fail to get the ball off the square. Then, to go on and accumulate an entire century of centuries is truly amazing.
But, there are other times when you hit a purple patch and runs seem to be following you. Even if you hand your bat out loosely, the ball hits the meat of it - the timing is impeccable, the placement is perfect - and bang, you have four runs for the taking.
Sachin Tendulkar was on a high when he blasted his 99th international ton in India's group match against South Africa in the 2011 World Cup. And, it seemed only a matter of time before the next one would roll on. But, that was not the case.
On India's tour of Australia that preceded the 2012 Asia Cup, the mighty batsman was all but a shadow of himself. Through the Test series and the triangular ODIs Down Under, the Indian fans waited with baited breath for the Master to take off the helmet and lift his bat to applaud the crowd one more time, but the moment eluded them each time. The Men in Blue suffered a 0-4 pasting in Test series and failed to reach the final of triangular series.
The team look fatigued when they landed in Bangladesh for the 2012 Asia Cup shortly after. In the 4th match of the tournament at the Shere Bangla National Stadium in Dhaka, the stars finally aligned.
But Tendulkar's knock was far from the masterclass. In fact, he was struggling to keep pace. The right-hander did not have his timing right and was quite slow to get off the blocks, particularly in the power play. He did bring up his century with a single off Shakib Al Hasan, but the reaction was more of relief than of joy.
His 114-run knock that came off 147 deliveries including 12 fours and one six at a below-par strike rate of 77.55 was one of the slowest knocks of his career. Had it not been for an explosive half-century from Suresh Raina, India would not have even managed the total of 289.
The Master's knock failed to provide the team an impetus and was also criticised for not being selfless. As a result of that and some ordinary bowling, India lost the match by five wickets and were ultimately knocked out of the tournament.
"It's been a tough phase for me. I started the season batting reasonably well, I was luckless. I was not thinking about the milestone, the media started all this, where ever I went, the restaurant, room service, everyone was talking about the 100th hundred. Nobody talked about my 99 hundreds.
"It was slightly different (the Dhaka hundred), the ball was not coming onto the bat. It hasn't sunk in but I've definitely lost about 50 kilos. Doesn't matter how many hundreds you've scored, you still have to put your head down and score for the team. Dreams do come true. I had to wait for one for 22 years (the World Cup)," Tendulkar articulated after achieving the milestone.
Be that as it may, when you look at the feat in a standalone manner - 100 international centuries - the record still stands unbroken and continues to inspire the Kohlis and Smiths to go one better.
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