By Dhananjay Devasper
The much-awaited milestone came in after over a year of anticipation, a few nervous 90s, a potential of fairytale endings at some of the most coveted grounds in the world. Just when the hype and hoopla around the “Century of Centuries” was put on the backburner by the media and it appeared that the Little Master would be stranded on 99 just like the great Don Bradman, Sachin Tendulkar reached the coveted milestone against Bangladesh in almost anticlimactic fashion.
Granted most of the fans would have preferred it either at Lords or against Australia and granted it was against a much weaker opposition. However the Little Master and any other cricketer will tell you that a century is a century, not matter who the opposition is. On a day when the Indian Finance Minister presented a lacklustre budget that disappointed many, Tendulkar brought cheer to billions of his fans by finally scoring that elusive century.
As expected, the media, celebrities and anyone who matters have gone to town, congratulating Sachin on this feat. Even Kapil Dev, did a volte face, and praised him to the skies after having called for him to retire a couple of weeks back. How the tides turn when the wheels of success churn.
The difference between good and great is the response when they are down and out for the count. There have been times in Tendulkar’s career when people counted him out, however he has bounced back every time. When he missed out against Sri Lanka in the first match, in the Asia Cup, it appeared that he was determined to get this monkey off his back against Bangladesh. He had a net session for two hours a day before the match, when everyone took the day off. He came in with a mindset to score the century at any cost. He cut out the risky strokes, concentrated on the singles and hit the odd boundary or two. He was nowhere close to his strike rate that he is normally accustomed to and that probably cost India a good 25 runs. However you are expected to defend 289 against Bangladesh.
And after the elation came the heartbreak, when Bangladesh managed to chase down the target that India had set with some inspired batting and thanks to insipid bowling by Irfan Pathan and Praveen Kumar at the end. The biggest culprit however was Ashok Dinda, who was carted by Shakib Al Hasan and gave the momentum away to Bangladesh in the middle overs when the pressure was well and truly on. The fairytale ending for the Indian team was destroyed and it has now thrown the Asia Cup Open. There will always be the talk about Sachin having scored slowly for his milestone, but if you cannot defend 289 against Bangladesh, you should seriously look at your World Champion tag and see what’s wrong. It also makes the India Pakistan contest on Sunday a match to watch. With all the match-fixing allegations in the past week, we might just see an engaging contest.
(Dhananjay Devasper is an "IT guy" by profession and a sports fanatic at heart. He has an unbridled passion for sports and Indian achievements in sport. Extremely opinionated, he attempts offering perspectives around sports which are simple to understand and easy to relate with)