Published in www.cricketnext.com.
By scoring his 49th century and converting it into his 6th double century in Test cricket during India’s emphatic 7 wicket victory over Australia in the Bangalaore Test, Sachin Tendulkar only underscored what we already knew. That he has mastered the art of scoring centuries at will.
Consider this- He has scored 6 centuries and 5 half centuries in his last 8 Test matches and is on course to record his 50th century when he plays against the New Zealand team next month. Coupled with 48 ODI tons, Tendulkar is nearing the staggering figure of 100 centuries for India, a feat that only the maddest cricket-lover could have dreamt about a few years ago.
What is fearsome about the feat for opponents is that Tendulkar is able to score tons in Bradmanesque fashion these days. Already considered to be the greatest batsman of all time after the Don, Tendulkar had added in the past one year that awe inspiring feeling of inevitability which every fielding side must experience as he walks out to bat against them.
In the history of cricket, already a long and glorious one, a new chapter is being clearly being added by Tendulkar’s phenomenal century scoring ability. A world record holder in terms of maximum runs scored and tons recorded in Tests as well as in ODIs, Tendulkar is now in a position to carry his records to levels which would surely be next-to-impossible to chase for any prolific scorer in future.
Already, Ricky Ponting, his nearest rival on the scoring charts, looks a trifle drained and out of breath as Tendulkar increases his 2000 run and 12 century lead in Tests over him. The mind is boggled to think that this champion batsman, this titan of titans from India, could end his career at a level that is unassailable and unattainable for generations to come.
His approach to batting in Test matches has been simple enough, of late. He comes in a settles down at a rather tedious rate by his own standards, accelerates to the 20s and 30s, slows down once again and then, once past 50, picks up the tempo once again. Never seeming to be in any hurry or in danger of throwing his wicket away, he even pulls out a six or two from his armoury, while glorious fours continue to flow from his bat all day.
Very soon, one realizes that Tendulkar is nearing yet another three-figure score and though he was dismissed for 98 at Mohali by the innocuous off-spin of Marcus North, he rarely gives the opposition any chance whatsoever to deny him. The manner in which he runs singles by the dozen and the enthusiasm with which he runs them is clear indication that his hunger has not diminished, that he still possesses that burning desire to pile up the runs and that, if anything, he is batting better than ever before.
Add to this the knowledge of his astonishing double century in an ODI against South Africa and the fact that he was the Orange cap winner in IPL 3, and you have a sense of the all round magnificence of the little man from Mumbai.
Sunil Gavaskar, that other great practitioner of the art of scoring centuries, would be the first one to acknowledge, and he does so often, that Tendulkar could go on batting like this for ever and that he may even score above 60 centuries for India in Tests.
One thing is certain. The knees may give way at some stage and the stamina may finally reduce with time, but as long as the will is there, as it is today in ample measure, Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar will go on scoring runs by the ton and others would simply be able to applaud and appreciate the greatest century maker that the world has ever seen.