Bengaluru, March 16: March 16, 2012 will forever remain etched in the annals of cricketing history. It was on that day Sachin Tendulkar made his 100th international hundred. The much-awaited moment came against Bangladesh in the Asia Cup league match at Dhaka.
A little backdrop. Tendulkar was on the cusp of 100th hundred for some time and during the tour of Australia that preceded the Asia Cup, there were mighty expectations of Tendulkar completing the rare feat. But in the Test series and in the triangular ODIs that followed, the batting maestro could not surpass the line. India lost the Test seies 0-4 and failed to reach the triangular final, which was competed between Australia and Sri Lanka.
The next stop was Asia Cup en route India after touring Down Under. India looked travel weary and jaded in that tournament and the match against Bangladesh was crucial for their extended stay in the tournament. Batting first, India made 289 for five, a handy total in Dhaka conditions where the ball gripped the surface before coming on to the bat.
Tendulkar was not in any sort of rhythm but hung in there. The historic hundred came when he turned Shakib Al Hasan for single and he looked mighty relieved after that. But his innings of 114 consumed 147 balls, one of the slowest hundreds Tendulkar ever made. India required some beefy hits from Suresh Raina to reach a competitive total.
India were eventually knocked out of the tournament after Bangladesh secured a five-wicket win with four balls to spare. Tendulkar received a special memento as recognition for the feat. "It's been a tough phase for me. I started the season batting reasonably well, I was luckless. I was not thinking about the milestone, the media started all this, where ever I went, the restaurant, room service, everyone was talking about the 100th hundred. Nobody talked about my 99 hundreds.
"It was slightly different (the Dhaka hundred), the ball was not coming onto the bat. It hasn't sunk in but I've definitely lost about 50 kilos. Doesn't matter how many hundreds you've scored, you still have to put your head down and score for the team. Dreams do come true. I had to wait for one for 22 years (the World Cup)," said Tendulkar after reaching the milestone.
But the innings also attracted severe criticism from several quarters accusing Tendulkar of being selfish largely because of the slow nature of innings and India's defeat.