Tendulkar dedicates Centurion century to his father and says “it’s the hunger which keeps me going”
Centurion, first Test, day 5: India 136 and 459 (Tendulkar 111*; Steyn 4-105) lost to South Africa 620/4 dec. by an innings and 25 runs
SACHIN TENDULKAR looked to the heavens as he celebrated becoming the first man to hit 50 Test centuries, dedicating his feat to his father and vowing to carry on terrorising bowlers for as long as he enjoyed it. He was speaking last night before South Africa wrapped up a comprehensive innings victory this morning to take a one-nil lead in the three match series.
India’s second innings score of 459 was the highest ever total in an innings defeat, another record to go with all those he has amassed, and another record from a remarkable Test match that saw India skittled for 136 (Tendulkar top scoring with 36) before South Africa racked up 620 for 4 declared, Jacques Kallis hitting an unbeaten 201, Hashim Amla 140 and AB de Villiers 129.
Though the eyes of English cricket fans will inevitably be on events thousands of miles away in Oz, it would be a mistake to ignore this little contest, in which the top two teams in the world battle it out for the number one spot, England’s next goal once the Ashes are secured.
Back then to Tendulkar, who said after his 50th ton that he was:
“... very happy it came at this moment; yesterday was my father’s birthday and I’d like to dedicate this to him. The first thing obviously I thought of was my father, I wanted to do it for him, this was his birthday, and, other than that, needless to say the support I have received over the years has been just fabulous, so once again thanks to all the people who have supported me.
“I’m playing for the love of it, you know, if I was chasing records I wouldn’t have missed those one day matches in between, but I’ve got to pace myself cleverly and I thought I was not in top physical condition and I needed some break and I requested the board to give me some break, they’ve allowed me to rest in between so that I say fresh, if I was chasing records I wouldn’t have done that, so you know, it’s about producing quality cricket and that's what I want to do.”
“See every time I go out the country needs me, it’s not that you know we are 200 for 2 and if I don’t score it doesn’t matter. It’s equally important at that time I do something special, and the frame of mind is such that every innings I want to go out and score runs, there hasn’t been a match where I have said OK fine if I get out early that's OK, I've never thought like that. So, you know, it’s extremely important to have that hunger, and it's the hunger which keeps one going, and I'm glad that it's still there...
“I don’t know, I’ve just been batting and enjoying my batting, sometimes, you know, you’re striking the ball really well, and that is when I think you need to cash in as much as possible, I’ve really tried to do that, I've felt that, you know, the last couple of years I was moving well and also the frame of mind as you put it correctly, that, you know, it's a habit, and once you build that habit, it's a good habit to carrry on tours or back home in India as well.”
Watch highlights of his press conference:
So what, then, rate as the best of his 50 100s, graphically illustrated in the context of all 286 of his innings below:
Well, leaving aside his first and 50th, the top three that stand out in my mind are:
3. Perth, February 1992, 114 v Australia
On a lethal pitch at the WACA in 1992, Tendulkar made 114 against an attack that included Craig McDermott and Merv Hughes, scoring the bulk of his runs with square cuts. Years later, speaking Of this innings, his second on his maiden tour of Australia - a monster four-month tour culminating in his first World Cup - and third overall, he would later say:
“That is when I felt that, yes, now I am here to play cricket anywhere in the world, any bowling attack and I am confident enough to tackle them.”
While Wisden recalls:
“India’s bedrock was a captivating 114 from Tendulkar from 161 balls with 16 fours, the bulk of them square cuts. He came in at 69 for two and was ninth out at 240, after 228 minutes, and a record ninth-wicket stand for India against Australia, of 81, with More. On the third morning, as he ran out of partners, he scored his second 50 from 55 balls.”
32. Sydney, January 2004, 241* v Australia
The fourth and final Test of a memorable series Down Under, which finished 1-1 after an incredible encounter at the SCG finished in a highly entertaining draw in Steve Waugh’s last Test. Tendunkar’s 241 not out, combined with VVS Laxman’s 178 India’s saw India to 705 for 7 declared - their highest innings total at the time and tenth highest of all, now the third and 18th highest Test totals respectively. The 353 Tendulkar and Laxman added for the fourth wicket was the fourth highest fourth wicket partnership in Test history, now the fifth.
In the second innings, he hit 60 not out, to complete a memorable series for him and the team. At the time, he described his unbeaten double century as “one of my best”, adding:
“I just decided to keep things simple... I had got out a couple of times to balls bowled outside the off stump, so I decided not to play that stroke [the cover-drive]. They were bowling consistently outside the off stump, and I decided to leave all those balls. Then they had to bowl to me and I used the pace of the ball.
“I would put this innings right at the top of my hundreds. I had a plan and I am happy I could execute it well. I am happy that I was able to maintain the discipline throughout the innings. Things had gone wrong a couple of times with my shot selection, and I knew I had to cut out a few strokes.”
41. Chennai, December 2008, 103* v England
This one, hitting the winning runs in a record-breaking chase to bring up his century less than a month after his home city of Mumbai had been attacked by terrorists, in a game that may not have gone ahead, surely ranks as the greatest of them all.
As I wrote at the time:
“The six-wicket win sparked scenes of wild jubilation amongst the 50,000 fans at the MA Chidambaram stadium in Chennai as well as across the whole of India - none more so than in Tendulkar's home city of Mumbai, where hundreds of people died in the terror attacks of last month.
“Those outrages had put the Test series in doubt, but come England did to resume their tour and play their part in one of the most Incredible Tests in history, laced with feats of individual brilliance, records galore and topped off by one of the most emotional finishes ever.
“‘This is a very, very important 100, right up among the top ones,’ said Tendulkar after hitting the winning runs and bringing up his century with the last shot of the game. ‘This hundred will give a certain amount of happiness to people but what happened in Mumbai, it’s very hard to recover from that.
“‘Cricket is a lesser thing compared to what has happened. Whatever we can contribute, we've been able to do that. We’re right with the people who have lost their dear ones.’”
“This was an innings once and for all to silence all the doubters, those ‘ignoramuses’ as Sunny Gavaskar had described them, all those who believed Sachin lacked bottle, lacked the character for a fight, to lead from the front and finish off a match, working for each run on a tricky last day pitch...
“And hit the winning runs he did, paddle-sweeping Swann round the corner to bring up his 41st Test century, win the match and complete, by some distance, the highest successful fourth innings chase in Asia and the fourth highest anywhere, punching the air in delight as he was lifted up by Yuvraj with the cheers of the crowd ringing in his ears.
“Seldom can the mood of a whole nation have been transformed so quickly by so few, illustrating most vividly the tremendous power of sport, to heal wounds, raise morale and showcase the very best of the human spirit, and in so doing fully justifying the decision to play.
“It may have finished India 1-0 England but the real score was Cricketers 1-0 Terrorists.”
• Cricinfo: Gallery of his 50 Test centuries
• Cricinfo: Celebrating 20 years of Sachin
• December 2009: 20 years of Tendulkar: the stats
• December 2008: Helps India to dramatic win
• October 2008: Helps India thrash Australia
• October 2008: Breaks Test run-scoring record
• July 2007: Little Master looks ahead to Lord’s Test