The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Atop mount ton
- World record sparks Formula One-like celebrations back at team hotel

Calcutta: The Melbourne Grand Hyatt’s managerial staff didn’t identify the guest, but did let it be known (to a limited circle) that she’d actually complained about somebody attempting to “drill a hole” from above her 25th floor room.

That, too, around “1.00 am” on a December night two years ago.

The complaint was serious, but the managers were relieved that the guest directly above the lady’s room was none other than Sachin Tendulkar.

He wouldn’t have been attempting anything outrageous.

So, what happened'

According to Greg Chappell, now the Team India coach, Sachin had embarked on a late night shadow-batting session and kept tapping the floor.

It was that noise which alarmed the genteel guest.

“Earlier that day, Sachin had a one-on-one with me' He hadn’t got many runs in that Test series till then and was very keen to score in the remaining innings (at the MCG and at the SCG)'

“I suggested a few things technically and also that he shouldn’t look for cheap runs' That he ought to build his innings' Given his dedication, Sachin began trying out small adjustments and psyching himself up that night itself' It was incredible,” Chappell told The Telegraph.

Dedication, of course, has been the cornerstone of Sachin’s incredible run from November 1989. Incidentally, after that shadow-batting exercise, he had scores of 44 (second innings at the MCG) and an epic unbeaten 241 at the SCG.

Cut to more recent times and Sachin had become pretty superstitious about the 35th Test hundred.

In fact, when a well-wisher said ‘hope you get it here (at the Chepauk)’ before Cyclone Baaz upstaged everybody in Chennai, Sachin turned to the nearest piece of wood and almost caressed it.

What he didn’t say is that he just wasn’t talking about a Test hundred which had (then) eluded him for almost 12 months.

Later, Sachin told an old acquaintance: “I believe in destiny and I’ll get the hundred where I’m destined to.”

The Kotla isn’t among Sachin’s most favoured, but destiny willed the record would be at a ground which has seen some truly blockbuster performances.

Late on Saturday afternoon, Dilhara Fernando resorted to gamesmanship and the umpires began studying the light meter, but Sachin couldn’t be denied.

It helped that Sourav Ganguly took a single only (off Chaminda Vaas) on what became the third last ball of the day. So much for whispers in some quarters that the former captain isn’t exactly a team man.

Sachin, who didn’t deviate from the 16-year ritual of thanking God (and, for the last six years, remembering his father), featured in a Formula One-like celebration when the team returned to the Taj Palace.

Two bottles of champagne were on the ice, of which one went exclusively for a bubbly-drench. The other was shared, as was the cake, cut “delicately” by the Man-of-the-Season.

Now, a team dinner is on the cards and the date is to be finalised by captain Rahul Dravid, who made a terrific statement by opting to open with specialist Gautam Gambhir.

It will be celebration time for some days yet.

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