By Ashish Shukla
Adelaide: Jan 21, 2012
In his quest for a 100th international century, Sachin Tendulkar has often lost his wicket to defensive batting but the Indian icon is expected to be in top gear in the fourth and final Test against Australia starting on Tuesday.
"He's so charged up he wouldn't rest with just one century. Once he crosses the landmark, he would weigh-in with a big one, possibly a double century," said a team-mate.
Tendulkar is a lesser failure than his other team-mates on this disastrous tour Down Under where he is averaging 41.50 with 249 runs from six innings.
But the wait for the 100th century is getting more agonising by the minute and Australians are bowling as if they couldn't care any less than what Tendulkar does with his broad bat at the other end.
Tendulkar is acutely aware he has often hurt his good form by inexplicable lapses into a complete run-denial mode. He owes it to himself to bat in one gear and with complete freedom in the final Test.
In the first innings of the Sydney Test, Tendulkar had moved to 20 off 24 balls with four fours. His next 21 runs took him 65 balls.
In the very next innings, Tendulkar had made his first eight runs off as many as 42 balls. He shifted gears to raise the next 42 off 48 balls. There was again that inevitable lapse into inactivity and his last 20 came off 43 balls.
Sometimes it's been because of a fall of a wicket. Most of the times though it has occurred when Tendulkar nears the end of a session or he is into the final minutes of a day's play. Almost without a fail, his methods have hurt his and his team's cause.
In what now surely is his final Test in Australia, Tendulkar owes it to himself to treat fans to the kind of talent which has often drawn comparisons with the incomparable Sir Donald Bradman. More so, since Adelaide has been the home of Don.
The wait for his 100th century is now surely weighing on his mind. It's now 10 Tests and 19 innings counting. It's the longest wait ever for a Test century in his 23-year-long, 187-Test-old career.
That alone must explain why Tendulkar agreed to be a part of India's one-day set-up which competes in the triangular series next month. Those who know him swear he is bristling with aggression to prove a point before the Australian summer is out.
Australians are running riot in the town, beating their chest at how they've claimed him to incoming deliveries or with those which have drawn him wide of his off-stump. They are patting themselves on the back on how their plan to Tendulkar has borne fruit. The little genius is keen to set the record straight.
A cricket-mad nation awaits the moment. They want Tendulkar to sour Australian captain Michael Clarke's dream of watching it on a television someday and not while Tendulkar is representing India on Australian soil.
Australian coach Mickey Arthur too wishes Tendulkar gets his 100th century -- but only after the present tour is over.
It's up to the 38-year-old veteran now to stand up and deliver. It's up to him to ensure that like four previous tours Down Under, he again returns home with at least a century under his belt.
For records, Tendulkar has hit six centuries from 16 Tests of four previous tours. In 1992-93, it was hundreds at Sydney and Perth.
In 1999-200, it was at Melbourne. In 2003-04, he cracked 241 not out at Sydney. In the last tour in 2008, it was tons at Sydney and Adelaide.
There is no better inspiration for him than to remember the final Test of the 2003-04 tour. He was still without a century when the final Test in Sydney beckoned. Almost with an iron will, eschewing the cover drives which had proved his failing, he hammered an unbeaten double century.
Tendulkar would wish it happens one last time. (PTI)