Tendulkar reaches milestone to rid himself of millstone

Sachin Tendulkar yesterday ended a year-long wait for his 100th international century and admitted the constant media speculation about when he would achieve the milestone had been “mentally tough” to deal with.

The ‘Little Master’, who began his international career in a Test match against Pakistan in November 1989 and who has amassed over 35,000 international runs, achieved the feat with a clipped single to square leg off Shakib Al Hasan in the 44th over of India’s Asia Cup contest against Bangladesh in Mirpur.

Bangladesh’s fielders offered their congratulations to the 38-year-old, who lifted his bat and raised his eyes skyward before celebrating his century with back-to-back fours en route to a final score of 114.

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Tendulkar said the relentless talk about his 100th hundred had been draining, and hoped his achievement would encourage others to “chase their dreams”.

“I was not thinking about the milestone, the media started all this. Wherever I went – the restaurant, room service – everyone was talking about the 100th hundred,” said the former Yorkshire batsman. “Nobody talked about my 99 hundreds. It became mentally tough for me because nobody talked about my 99 hundreds.

“I started off the season batting reasonably well. I was luckless. I am not playing only for my hundredth hundred. It doesn’t matter how many 100s you score, you still put your head down, grind it out and do the job for the team.”

Asked if he had a message for his fans, Tendulkar added: “Enjoy the game and chase your dreams. Dreams do come true. I had to wait for 22 years for India to win the World Cup.”

N Srinivasan, the president of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), described Tendulkar as a “colossus”.

“Ever since he made his international debut in November 1989, Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar has strode cricketing arenas the world over like a colossus,” said Srinivasan. “He has broken old records and set new benchmarks. He has been an inspiration to billions, and an ornament to the sport. March 16, 2012 will never be forgotten by cricket lovers.”

Haroon Lorgat, the president of the International Cricket Council, added: “This is indeed a magnificent feat and not likely to be easily emulated.

“To record 100 centuries for your country is a massive statement.

“He is a marvel to cricket lovers around the world and with an array of batting records, Sachin is a true role model who will undoubtedly hold a special place in cricket’s history.”

Tendulkar has scored over 35,000 runs in Test and one-day cricket, with yesterday’s century his 49th in the 50-over format and his first in the one-day game against Bangladesh.

He scored his 99th century in last year’s World Cup, smashing 111 against South Africa in Nagpur, but failed to register a century on India’s tour of England, the home series against the West Indies and the tour of Australia.

England opener Alastair Cook, who was celebrating a century himself in a warm-up match against a Sri Lankan Board XI in Colombo, said: “I can’t see how anyone will ever get 100 international hundreds ever again. I’ve got 70-odd to go.

“Words can’t describe it, especially under that kind of pressure, being the hero of India for millions, billions of people. To do that is phenomenal.

“He can’t walk down the street, he can’t get a release from cricket in a cricket-mad country.

“He’s the greatest batter, statistically, there has ever been. It’s phenomenal. I can’t actually get my head around 100 international hundreds.”