Sachin Tendulkar scores 50th Test ton in South Africa

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first_imgA bent left knee, a high left elbow and the ball meeting the middle of the bat and rushing towards cover- point. That was the sight cricket fans the world over had been waiting for since October 11 this year, when Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar had reached his 49th Test century against Australia in Bangalore.Click here to EnlargeOn Sunday, leading an improbable rearguard in the company of skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Tendulkar delivered exactly that picture, scampering through for a single off the top bowler in the world, Dale Steyn, and making himself the first batsman to reach 50 centuries in the 133-year history of Test cricket.As he ran across the 22-yard strip at the SuperSport Park in Centurion, he raised his arms skywards and then, as is his wont, looked to the heavens for blessings from the almighty and also his late father. After the day”s play, Tendulkar dedicated the ton to his father. “Yesterday was my father”s birthday. I dedicate this century to him. As for myself, I am happy to have scored runs. I really don’t know how to express my feelings,” he told reporters.Perhaps even more than the sheer mountain of statistics created by this diminutive colossus, it is the context of this knock that needs to be put into perspective.Fourteen thousand-plus runs in 175 Test matches and 17,598 runs in 442 One-Day Internationals wouldn”t have mattered a jot if Tendulkar had got out early. After all, having shot India out for 136 and posted 620 for four declared, South Africa were going for the jugular and had reduced India to 277 for six.advertisementCounter-attack was the name of the game for Tendulkar as he displayed his trademark mix of caution and aggression in his unbeaten 107 (226 balls, 13×4, 1×6) and, with Dhoni blasting his way to a half-century at the other end, suddenly the hopes of a cricketmad nation rose again.Tendulkar himself has been doing his best impression of a phoenix in this calendar year, rising from the ashes of his injury and form woes of the last few years to stroke seven hundreds in Test cricket since January 1, 2010.His overall tally of 1,539 runs in this calendar year so far has come at a staggering average of 85.50. Add the epoch-making 200 not out in an ODI against the Proteas in Gwalior in February and it just proves that not only is Tendulkar far from finished, he is also enjoying the greatest period in a career strewn with purple patches. No wonder Time magazine has listed his ODI double ton as one of the 10 greatest moments in all sport this year.Speaking about his streak, Tendulkar said: “It”s a state of mind. For the last two years, I have been doing well. I have been really enjoying my batting. I believe doing well is a habit and a good habit. So if you have this good habit, you shouldn”t let it go.”When it all began on November 15 in sunny Karachi 21 years ago, the promise was there for all to see. After all, there was an unbeaten triple hundred in a then world record 664-run partnership with good mate Vinod Kambli for Shardashram Vidya Mandir in the Lord Harris Shield in 1988 and a ton on his first-class debut for Mumbai.But a meagre return of 15 runs and a bloody nose, courtesy fellow debutant Waqar Younis, seemed to add steel to the baby-faced 16-year-old, and almost every bowler in the world born in his era suffered as a result. The first Test hundred was nearly achieved on a difficult tour to New Zealand in 1990, but Tendulkar fell 12 runs short in Napier and had to wait six more months, till August 9, 1990, till an off-drive for three off Angus Fraser took him to three figures for the first of 96 occasions at Old Trafford in Manchester.Tendulkar then sealed his growing reputation as the one to watch out for with a sparkling 148 at Sydney in the New Year Test of 1992 against an Australian attack featuring Craig McDermott, Bruce Reid, Merv Hughes and a debutant leg-spinner named Shane Warne. India went on to lose the fivematch series 4-0 but one knock that stayed in the minds of pundits was 161-ball 114 on a lightning fast Perth wicket against four quicks.From there to greatness was just a series of steps for Tendulkar and, while there can be no doubt whatsoever about his feats as a batsman, one just needs to imagine what it would be like to actually be him in this country of cricket fanatics. And yet he remains modest and intensely private as ever.advertisementHis message for his fans was simplicity itself: “I thank all my fans who have supported me all these years. I promise that I would continue to perform and make you all happy. I hope that I will keep getting your support in the future too.”-(With agency inputs)last_img

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