It was on 12 March 2011 when Sachin Tendulkar scored his 99th international ton. It was a blazing innings of 111 off 101 deliveries but it still wasn’t enough to win the match for Team India.
What this innings did, though, was start a countdown to his 100th international hundred. Every time Sachin went out to bat, fans waited with bated breath to see if this would be the historic day when their “God” finally became the first cricketer in history to score 100 international hundreds.
The wait became longer with each passing day, and eventually, fans had to wait for over a year – 34 innings to be precise – for that glorious day to finally arrive. Tendulkar did come agonisingly close to the milestone on a couple of occasions – he amassed 91 against England at the Oval and 94 against West Indies at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai, but the wait ended at Dhaka, in the Asia Cup of 2012.
The Master Blaster and the Modern Master make the home team toil
First, there was the “Little Master” – Sunil Gavaskar, then the mantle moved onto another little Mumbaikar who became renowned as the “Master Blaster” – Sachin Tendulkar, and now, it’s the “Modern Master” – Virat Kohli, who is holding the flag of Indian batting aloft.
On this day, the duo came together in the 6th over at the fall of Gautam Gambhir’s wicket with the score at just 25, and stitched together a partnership of 148 in 30 overs to set a platform for the likes of Raina and Dhoni to unleash their fury later in the innings.
Sachin overshadowed Kohli by scoring 75 runs in the partnership. The current Indian skipper scored a slightly uncharacteristic 66 from 82 balls with just five fours but gave ample support to Sachin en route to his much-awaited milestone.
The moment finally arrives – the 100th hundred
The pressure of the milestone was beginning to show in Sachin’s batting. Having reached 80 off 102 deliveries, he found scoring runs increasingly difficult after that, and as a result, it took him as many as 36 further deliveries to reach his hundred.
The moment finally came off the 4th delivery of the 44th over, when Sachin gently tapped a Shakib delivery towards square leg and took off for perhaps the most cherished single of his cricketing career.
It took him a painstaking 138 deliveries to get to his ton in an innings that was punctuated with 10 fours and a six, but the monkey was finally off his back. His celebration was subdued – maybe the great man knew that he had had to fight incredibly hard to get to this one, maybe he felt that it had taken him far too long since No. 99 had arrived a year ago – however, the big moment had finally come.
He was dismissed for 114 in the 47th over but cameos from Raina and Dhoni towards the end ensured India posted a more than competitive 289 on the board at the end of 50 overs.
Bangladesh’s batting fires in unison to keep the chase alive
Bangladesh’s chase began with a minor stutter as opener Nazimuddin was dismissed by Praveen Kumar in the 5th over with the score at just 15. But that was to be only a minor blip in an otherwise dominant batting display by the home team.
Tamim Iqbal and Jahurul Islam added 113 for the second wicket off 24 overs to keep their team in the hunt, and once Jahurul was dismissed in the 29th over, Nasir Hossain, who was promoted to No. 4 ahead of the more experienced duo of Shakib and Mushfiqur, took over.
He scored briskly to reach his 50 and despite losing Tamim for 70 in the 34th over, Bangladesh were well and truly in the chase as they had plenty of wickets in hand.
Skipper Mushfiqur seals the deal, breaks Indian hearts
Ravichandran Ashwin got the dangerous Shakib Al Hasan stumped for 49 in the 42nd over with the scoreboard reading 224. 66 still to get off eight overs and Bangladesh’s best batsman was back in the pavilion, but out walked a spirited Mushfiqur Rahim who took it solely upon himself to ensure that the home fans exited the stadium in a state of contentment.
He started in a sedate fashion and formed a steady partnership with Nasir Hossain before launching a vicious attack towards the end that broke millions of Indian hearts, who were hoping for an Indian win to cap off Sachin’s 100th ton.
With 33 needed off the last three overs at 11 runs per over, he tore into Irfan Pathan and hit him for two sixes to loot 17 off the over, bringing the equation down to 16 off the last two overs. The penultimate over from Praveen Kumar began with a waist-high no ball that Mushfiqur smashed for a four, and followed it with a six to effectively seal it for his team.
Victory eventually came in the last over when he smashed an Ashok Dinda delivery over mid-off to send the already frenzied crowd into delirium. Bangladesh had upstaged the much fancied Indian team to cause a major upset in the tournament.
It was a landmark victory for the hosts, but the day will forever be remembered as one in which the greatest batsman in the world achieved what no one else will ever come close to – scoring a hundred international hundreds.