Praise all around for Indian great overshadows today's crucial Asia Cup clash for India against Pakistan.
'Relieved' Tendulkar will play on beyond milestone 100
DHAKA // India's Sachin Tendulkar said yesterday that the hardest period of his life was over after the batsman scored his 100th international century, just over a year since he got his 99th.
Tendulkar, who had gone 33 innings without scoring an international ton since chalking up 111 in a World Cup group match against South Africa last March, claimed his 100th century when he hit 114 off 147 balls against Bangladesh on Friday.
"I have to admit I was relieved," he told reporters in Dhaka. "This is now out of the way and I can start a new chapter.
"It was possibly the toughest phase of my life. There was so much hype and attention about the 100th hundred.
"I thought I possibly batted the best in my life over the last year and got close in a couple of games but I couldn't achieve that. There are no specific reasons for that; at times I was luckless. Sometimes you need to have luck on your side to cross the final hurdle."
Despite the 33 luckless innings Tendulkar was always confident of getting the century sooner or later.
"I knew it would come but it is important that you don't take things for granted and keep working the way you usually do," the 38 year old said.
Praise came from all corners yesterday for his feat. "It is a great achievement which other players of his era and those who come after him will not even think of achieving," said former Pakistan captain Javed Miandad, who featured in Tendulkar's first Test in Karachi in 1989.
"When he played against us in 1989 he showed glimpses of what was in store for the cricket world and the kind of sincerity he has shown with the game has only made him immortal and prolonged his career to 23 years and he can still go on."
Another former Pakistan captain Moin Khan also joined the chorus of praise. "He has achieved something which will be tough to match. He has been a trend-setter and if players try to emulate him we will get more and more great players, but his records will be tough to erase."
Indian media seemed unconcerned that their side had lost the Asia Cup match to Bangladesh in Dhaka on Friday despite Tendulkar's hundred. "Thanks a ton", screamed identical headlines in the Times of India and Hindustan Times newspapers, while the front page in the Indian Express gave scores of the 38 year old's centuries above the headline, "Mathemagic".
West Indies legend Viv Richards, wrote in a front-page tribute in the Times of India: "I have seen Sachin bat and I think I have seen the best. The 100th century was a testimony to his self-belief and his unwavering focus."
Sourav Ganguly, former captain and teammate, said the 100th ton was unlikely to be the last for the veteran, who turns 39 next month. "Amazing, incredible, unbelievable," Ganguly wrote in the Hindustan Times about his long-time teammate, who is the world's leading scorer in both Test and one-day cricket.
"I can surely tell you, hundred hundreds is not the ultimate figure for Sachin and many more are still due from the 'Special One'."
Tendulkar's next task is to help his side to victory over Pakistan today at the Asia Cup.
India need to win to give themselves the best chance of joining Pakistan in Thursday's final of the four-team competition.