Sachin Tendulkar became the first player to score 100 international cricket centuries during India’s Asia Cup one-day loss to Bangladesh, ending his yearlong wait to reach the milestone.
Tendulkar, the leading run-scorer in Test and one-day matches, reached the mark with a single off Shakib Al Hasan at the Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium in Dhaka yesterday. He now has 51 centuries in elite five-day Tests and 49 in one-dayers, including his first against Bangladesh, which won by five wickets. He reached 114 before falling to Mashrafe Mortaza.
It’s the latest record for Tendulkar, 38, in a career that began at 16. In the past two years, the right-hander became the first player to hit a one-day international double-century, score 50 Test hundreds, amass an unprecedented 15,000 Test runs and set the record for Test matches played. In April, he helped India win its first Cricket World Cup title since 1983.
“This is indeed a magnificent feat and not likely to be easily emulated,” Haroon Lorgat, International Cricket Council chief executive, said in a statement. “The number 100 is special for a batsman and to record 100 centuries for your country is a massive statement.”
Mumbai-born Tendulkar had been stuck on 99 centuries since hitting 111 against South Africa on March 12, 2011, at the World Cup. His drought spanned 33 innings during which he’d twice got out in the 90s and passed 50 on eight occasions.
He averaged 34 in the Test series in England in July and August that the home team swept 4-0. His highest score in the first three matches was 56, then he reached 91 before getting out leg-before-wicket.
Tendulkar got to within six runs on Nov. 25 in the third Test against the West Indies, disappointing his hometown crowd in Mumbai by edging the ball to a fielder when on 94.
In December’s first Test against Australia in Melbourne, Tendulkar top scored for India in both innings with 73 and 32. He made 41 on the opening day of the second match in Sydney, then got out for 80 in the second innings on a pitch where Australia captain Michael Clarke racked up a ground-record 329 not out the previous day and two of his teammates hit centuries.
Tendulkar didn’t score more than 25 runs in the third and fourth Tests in Adelaide and Perth as India slumped to its second straight 4-0 series loss away from home. His century drought extended into the three-nation one-day series in Australia, where he managed a top score of 48 in seven innings.
“In Australia, I felt luckless,” Tendulkar said in comments on the India cricket board’s website. “It doesn’t matter how many hundreds you score, you still have to put your head down and grind it out and do the job for the team.”
After scoring six in India’s Asia Cup opener against Sri Lanka, Tendulkar made the breakthrough yesterday. Tendulkar’s run rate slowed as he neared the record mark and he scored a series of singles before clipping Al Hasan to square leg to bring up his 100. He removed his helmet and raised his bat skyward as even the opponents came to shake his hand in celebration.
Tendulkar, who made his debut against India’s archrival Pakistan in 1989, registered his first three-figure score in Tests against England in 1990 at age 17. His Test average of 55.44 is the highest by any Indian who batted at least 20 times and is 15th in a list headed by Donald Bradman on 99.94.
Former teammate Rahul Dravid, Australia’s Ricky Ponting, South Africa’s Jacques Kallis and Mahela Jayawardene of Sri Lanka are the only other active players to have scored more than 10,000 Test runs. Dravid, who retired from international cricket on March 9, has the second-best Test run tally with 13,288. Ponting is second on the century-makers list with a total of 71.
Tendulkar is the only player to have scored more than 18,000 runs in one-day internationals.
“There’s Sachin and then there’s daylight,” former Australia spin bowler Shane Warne, whose 708 Test wickets are the second most in history, said in May when asked to rate the batsmen he’s played against.
Nicknamed “Little Master,” the 5-foot-5 Tendulkar is an idol in India, where cricket is the most popular sport among the country’s population of 1.2 billion. He earns about $8 million a year from salary and endorsements, according to Forbes magazine, and was given the honorary rank of group captain by the Indian Air Force in 2010 in recognition of his “glorious achievements as a cricketer and sports icon.”
“He has made India proud,” Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said in a statement. “Tendulkar’s long career has been a triumph of class, character and courage.”
Former India captain Sunil Gavaskar, who was the first cricketer to reach 10,000 Test runs, said in an interview with India’s Telegraph newspaper in November that Tendulkar’s technique, temperament and “almost child-like enthusiasm” set him apart from his peers.
Having finally notched his 100th century, the focus will shift to new targets, according to former teammate Sameer Dighe, who played alongside Tendulkar for India and Mumbai.
“The uncertainty has now been put to rest and analysts will now be working on what new benchmark to ask him to achieve,” Dighe said in an interview.