Cricket fraternity savours yet another achievement by the Little Master

Sachin Tendulkar also stated that he has not made up his mind Getty Images

Mirpur: Mar 17, 2012

World and Indian greats on Saturday bowed to Sachin Tendulkar – “the best” – for scoring 100 international centuries, but speculation about his future threatened to overshadow the achievement.

Fevered Indian media seemed unconcerned that their side had lost the Asia Cup match to Bangladesh in Dhaka on Friday despite Tendulkar’s hundred, as newspapers devoted several pages to celebrate the unprecedented feat.

“Thanks a ton”, screamed identical headlines in the Times of India and Hindustan Times newspapers, while the front page in the Indian Express gave scores of the 38-year-old’s centuries above the headline, “Mathemagic”.

West Indies legend Viv Richards, regarded as one of the greatest batsmen of all time alongside Don Bradman and Tendulkar, said he was a great admirer of the record-breaking Indian.

“I have seen Sachin bat and I think I have seen the best,” Richards wrote in a front-page tribute in the Times of India. “The 100th century was a testimony to his self-belief and his unwavering focus.”

Amid calls for Tendulkar to retire from one-day cricket to prolong his Test career, Richards urged everyone to let the batsman decide his own future.

“I think Sachin has earned the right to decide when exactly he wants to put down his bat,” he wrote.

“He is not going to continue if he feels he is not performing up to his standards. Let us sit back and enjoy the last years of this humble, diminutive and yet commanding cricketer.”

Tendulkar himself played down talk of retirement, saying he had not made up his mind.

“If I decide to retire, it won’t be done secretively,” he told a media conference in Dhaka late on Friday night. “I will let you guys know. As of now, I am enjoying the game.”

Tendulkar was disappointed that India lost the game to Bangladesh despite making 5-289 following his 147-ball 114.

“I think it was a good total,” he said. “Until last three overs, when they needed 33 runs, we were in good control. Then we lost the grip on the game.”

Tendulkar said the year-long wait to reach his 100th century after scoring his 99th on March 12 last year had frustrated him at times.

“I am not God. I am Sachin Tendulkar,” he said.

“I felt that even after 22 years, the cricketing god was testing me over the last one year. I will be honest – I was frustrated at times, but I never gave up.

“I came close to it so many times. My feet were moving so well. I just didn’t know why it was not coming. It was difficult – those who haven’t gone through it won’t know how difficult it was.”

Asked what could be his next milestone, Tendulkar replied: “I’ve never played cricket for milestones. I play cricket just because I enjoy the game.”

Former Indian captain Sourav Ganguly said the 100th ton was unlikely to be the last for Tendulkar, who turns 39 next month.

“Amazing, incredible, unbelievable,” Ganguly wrote in the Hindustan Times about his long-time teammate, who is the world’s leading scorer in both Test and one-day cricket.

“I can surely tell you, hundred hundreds is not the ultimate figure for Sachin and many more are still due from the ‘Special One’.

“He has stood up to the very best and continues to do his part. One needs to realise that to go out there and keep on doing the best, day-in-day-out, is an achievement by itself.”

Ganguly said Tendulkar remained motivated to carry on for a few more years yet.

“Representing your country is in itself a motivator,” he wrote. “The tri-colour is still proudly imprinted on his helmet and I am sure it will be there for a few more years.” (AFP)

Complete coverage of Sachin Tendulkar s 100th hundred

List of Sachin Tendulkar’s 100 international centuries