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Sports & Off The Pitch
Mar 19 2012 7:31AM
 
‘I’m not God, I’m Sachin’
Sachin Tendulkar (L) celebrates after he scored his 100th international centuries during their Asia Cup One Day International (ODI) cricket match against Bangladesh in Dhaka March 16. Photo: Reuters
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Dwalpayan Datta

It was a match of “mixed emotions” for Sachin Tendulkar after Bangladesh upset India even as the batsman himself conquered an elusive personal summit.

Sachin reached the 100th hundred milestone with probably the most lustily cheered single of his career – a clip towards square leg off the bowling of Shakib-al Hasan, but the celebration was muted, just a characteristic look skywards with arms raised and a kiss planted on the India logo on the helmet.

After the disappointment of watching the Bangladesh batsmen cart India’s bowlers all over the park, he told reporters: “I am not God. I am Sachin Tendulkar.”

He admitted the long wait of 33 innings for the ton frustrated him at times. “I felt even after 22 years, the cricket god was testing me over the last one year. I will be honest, I was frustrated at times, but I never gave up,” Tendulkar said.

“It’s a wrong notion that I didn’t go to West Indies to get my 100th hundred in England. You can never plan your hundreds, if I could, I would have been something else. I came so close so many times. I could have got it at the Oval (against England), in Mumbai (against Windies) or in the first two Tests in Australia. My feet were moving so well, I just didn’t know why it was not coming. It was difficult, those who haven’t gone through it won’t know how difficult it was.”

Next came the loaded question. Now that he has reached the magic mark, what’s the next milestone for him? “I’ve never played cricket for milestones. While playing, I have ended up breaking a few records, but that was never my goal. I play cricket just because I enjoy the game. The 100th hundred was the most difficult.”

Just after completing his century, Tendulkar “thanked God”. “I was not looking at the scoreboard. I just took it one ball at a time and looked to do it for the team. Even after completing my century, my job was not done.”


The 100th hundred was the most difficult, admits Tendulkar after Mirpur milestone
Tendulkar had turned out for practice a couple of days before the Bangladesh game with a couple of young guys in tow. How does he explain that dedication even after so many years of international cricket?

“It’s never too bad to practice, isn’t it? Yes, it was my off day and I wanted to get a feel of things and that’s why I turned up. At the end of the day, I love the game and that’s why I am here.”

The defeat in the game came up for discussion and the obvious query was whether India batted a little too slowly?

“I don’t think so. We had a look at the wicket and decided that 275-280 was a decent score. We were well on track, but Bangladesh played really well and won the game. Don’t forget they are a decent side and could have won against Pakistan also.”

Now that the 100th hundred is done, is he going to call it quits?

“If I decide to retire, it won’t be done secretively. I will let you guys know. As of now, I am enjoying the game,” Sachin said, promising to enthrall cricket lovers for some time to

come.

When he was batting, it seemed the Indian team was on a mission to help Tendulkar get to the mark. Sporting a new hairdo, Tendulkar’s free-flowing shots dried up the moment the ton became a possibility. Suresh Raina, his partner, walked up to him, asked him to stick with the singles, and started taking all the risks.

Tendulkar had clearly decided that he wouldn’t give it away this time. After all, he had made 80-plus scores four times in the past year without hitting a ton. The most treacherous stretch, of course, was the 90s.

A boundary early on brought the pressure down a bit and he was merely one shot away. Overs went by, impatience grew, and a few jibes started flying about. But none of this reached Tendulkar’s ears. It was his tryst with a landmark he had crossed 99 times before.

Finally, the moment came on the fourth ball of the 43th over. As the whole stadium stood up, the Bangladesh players rushed in to congratulate. “Enjoy the game and chase your dreams, I think dreams do come true,” he said after the knock.

This article first appeared in The Times of India

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