March 16 is a special day for not just Sachin Tendulkar but for fans around the world who celebrate cricketing milestones with fervour and passion.
New Delhi: On this day, a year earlier, an entire nation heaved a sigh of relief. Not just India but the entire cricketing fraternity celebrated Sachin Tendulkar's 100th international century, against Bangladesh in the Asia Cup match played on March 16, 2012.
Story first published on: Saturday, 16 March 2013 11:54
In the run-up to that century, there was criticism in heavy loads as well as speculations about an impending retirement. A few blasted the legendary batsman and said he had lost his midas touch especially since it took him close to a year to reach the milestone. A few others said it was time he called it quits and gave youngsters a chance. The staunch skeptics suggested that since the eventual ton was against minnows Bangladesh, it hardly counted. Imperious to the vast array of opinions, Sachin's nudge behind square-leg once again emphasized that records are not just numbers but evidence of prodigal talent.
Talent though is not immune to imperfections. And so, Sachin too came close to the three-figure mark earlier but failed to go the distance. Perhaps the opposing bowlers were just too talented or nerves got the better of the Indian - Sachin became the talking point of impatient fans all around.
Even on this day last year, the half-full Shere Bangla stadium suggested that a milestone was not really expected. As Sachin began revealing his arsenal of shots though, the numbers began growing. The cheers, chants, and the Mexican waves soon took over with locals supporting their own team and yet, holding their breath for a possible once-in-a-lifetime feat. The 44th over from Shakib-Al-Hasan saw the Little Master - batting with Suresh Raina - finally complete a ton. Helmet came off, the sky was gazed upon and cricket was thanked in what was a subdued and evidently relieved celebration.
Sachin added another 14 to his total with 12 boundaries and a six to take India to 289 in a match that his side eventually lost by 5 wickets. And while the veteran has since hung his coloured national jersey and is yet to score a follow-up century, March 16 may well be marked in bold stencils on Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar's calendar.
Sachin Tendulkar (international stats till March 15, 2013):
Total matches played: 659
Total runs: 34172
Total centuries: 100
Total fifties: 163
Total cricketer, complete legend!