Friday 23 March 2018

Cricket: Sachin Tendulkar's Don Bradman moment?

Cricket's undisputed Little Master will have to wait a little longer to claim the sport's most anticipated milestone.

Sachin Tendulkar fell one stroke short of becoming the first batsman to score 100 international centuries when he was dismissed for 94 during the third Test against West Indies.

Tendulkar already holds most of cricket's major batting records, including the most runs and centuries in both Test and one-day internationals, as well as the highest ever one-day score - 200 not out against South Africa at Gwalior last year. He is increasingly compared with Australian great, Sir Donald Bradman.

Tendulkar could still reach the milestone in front of a home crowd if he elects to play in the upcoming one-day series against West Indies, otherwise he'll have to bide his time until the tour of Australia, starting in December, for a chance to attain a record the whole of India is waiting for.

Tendulkar, resuming on 67 at his home ground (Wankhede Stadium), was tantalisingly close to his ton when he edged a delivery from pace bowler Ravi Rampaul and knew immediately that his time in the middle was over.

West Indies captain Darren Sammy jumped up in jubilation on taking the catch at second slip, while Tendulkar cut a dejected figure as he looked sideways in disappointment before trudging off the ground.

The crowd, which had been urging him on with chants of "Sach-in, Sach-in," was reduced to a stunned silence.

Tendulkar strode confidently to the crease to start the morning and drove a boundary in the very first over off Rampaul with a stylish flick to the leg side.

The new ball, taken early this morning, seemed to have no effect on Tendulkar as he straight drove Rampaul for four and hit fellow paceman Fidel Edwards through the covers for his third boundary of the morning.

He then had the crowd up on its feet as he moved into the 90s with a slashed six off Edwards, over third-man, that took him from 87 to 93.

Tendulkar faced 20 deliveries in the morning session and hit a total of eight fours and two sixes in a 153-ball knock.

The 100th century has been tensely anticipated since he notched two hundreds during this year's World Cup, to reach a total of 99. This is the second time he's been out in the 90s in pursuit of the milestone. He scored 91 at the Oval during India's tour of England this year.

His 51 Test centuries and 48 one-day 100s are testimony to not only his talent, but also a perseverance that has led to the kind of longevity rarely seen in modern-day cricket.

Comparisons to Bradman have been discussed over the years, but former India coach and Australia Test captain Greg Chappell put things in perspective most recently in his new autobiography 'Fierce Focus'.

"Not even Don Bradman carried expectations like this, and Sachin had been bearing it since 1989," Chappell wrote. "If he didn't train and then performed badly, he'd have been blamed. People would notice. And there was no relief for him going out onto the streets either. He just couldn't get any rest."

Tendulkar has carried the burden of expectation since his debut tour to Pakistan as a 16 year-old with a mess of curly hair.

From facing the likes of Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis, Courtney Walsh and Allan Donald to taking on the likes of Glenn McGrath, Shane Warne, Brett Lee and Shaun Taite, he has mastered the world's best bowlers as both a teenager and a senior batsman.

Tendulkar's art of accumulating runs has only got better with experience and the only worthy comparison is to Bradman, who once said that the Mumbai batsman reminded him of his own playing style.

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