Calcutta, March 16: Sachin Tendulkars 114 against Bangladesh hasnt made him a greater batsman than he already was before his innings, but the hundred will certainly end a great obsession.
Sadly, Sachins feat (100 international hundreds) got overshadowed by Bangladeshs stunning five-wicket win, which has jeopardised Indias chance of making the March 22 final of the Asia Cup.
Not a first for fearless Bangladesh, whod upset us in the 2007 World Cup, and it wasnt the first time that our bowling got exposed either.
If even a hundred from Sachin cant be enough to overcome Bangladesh, then the road ahead can hardly be smooth.
The enormity of his achievement hadnt sunk in when former Pakistan captain Ramiz Raja interviewed Sachin during the change-over, but he admitted that the janatas obsession had made it very difficult for him mentally.
Sachin had become superstitious too.
Indeed, when this reporter wished him at the Sheraton On The Park on the eve of the Sydney Test, this January, hed replied laughing: Arre, arre.… Dont mention the hundred.… It may get further away from me.
As it turned out, Sachin did come rather close to a hundred in the second innings at the SCG, falling for 80 to part-timer Michael Clarke.
Talking to Ramiz, Sachin also conceded that it had been a tough phase for him. It was, for he needed 34 innings (in Tests and ODIs) after his 111 in the World Cup, last March, to get the next hundred.
The longer the wait, the more the pressure and Sachin must have felt that hugely comforting release on getting the 100th run, off MoM Shakib-al Hasan, at the Sher-e-Bangla Stadium.
Some hours later, though, Sachin had mixed feelings.
Sixty-four years have passed since Sir Don Bradman retired with a Test average of 99.94, but nobody has come anywhere close to that. Equally, it can safely be assumed that nobody will match Sachin.
Ricky Ponting, with 71 international hundreds, is the closest (if one may term it so) to Sachin. But hes through with ODIs and is unlikely to score 29 Test hundreds more before signing off.
A common belief is that records are meant to be broken, and so many have been eclipsed, but you can bet on this one remaining. Sachin will almost surely be the only one to score 100 international hundreds.
Kapil Dev, of course, has a somewhat different take. (See Sport)
Sachin has set the bar higher.… Its a mind-boggling achievement, is how Sunil Gavaskar, one of those who inspired Sachin, hailed the feat.
Ramiz added: Cricket has no boundaries.… Whether one is an Indian or a Pakistani, its an achievement for all of us.… Ive been extremely fortunate being part of the Sachin Tendulkar show today.
Of late, there has been a suggestion that Sachin quit ODIs, but he continues to be a force in the 50-over game. Age (he turns 39 next month) isnt an issue.
From finding the gaps, to pushing far younger teammates like Virat Kohli over the 22 yards, Sachin is doing it all. Besides, his presence alone plays on the oppositions mind.
Not that it was required, but Sachin made it clear, at a media conference, that hed play as long as the enjoyment was there.
That Sachin often works harder than many in the team is as significant as his records.
The other day, he spent all of two hours practising when the nets session in Dhaka had been optional!
Away from the public eye, but setting an example for those who wish to follow.
All I can say is there was, and is, only one Rahul Dravid. There can be no other, Sachin saluted Dravid, in an emotional text message to The Telegraph, when the latter retired from international and domestic first-class cricket.
There wont be another Sachin Tendulkar either.