Asia Cup 2011-12 March 17, 2012

'Have to admit I was relieved' - Tendulkar

Even for a man who has been in the centre of the media spotlight for 23 years, the hype about the 100th century was unnerving

In the early hours of Saturday morning, word spread that Sachin Tendulkar was going to address the Indian press around noon at the team hotel in Dhaka. Several journalists began to wonder why. He had already spoken, at a longer than usual press conference, on Friday night about the 100th hundred and the defeat to Bangladesh. Was there going to be a major announcement?

There was not, but he was even more candid as he spoke to around a dozen print journalists in a small, tightly guarded hall at the hotel. A photojournalist first presented him with a cake, with "Tons of love for you Master" written on it, and then fumbled with nervousness trying to fix in candles reading 100 X 100. Looking relaxed in a casual T-shirt, Tendulkar waited patiently, before blowing out the candles and taking a bite of the cake, and then taking questions.

Even as the reporters vied with each other to get their say in a rare interaction with the biggest name in Indian cricket, Tendulkar stayed calm and answered eloquently. Over the past year, even as India tumbled to new lows in England and Australia, Tendulkar stayed away from the media, not fronting up a single press conference. His was an influential voice, and he had not wanted to increase the already relentless, and sometimes perspective-less, coverage of the latest of his many landmarks.

"This anticipation and disappointment when I didn't get (the 100th hundred) was way greater than anything else. I don't know how to explain to you. I wish there was someone to guide me about how to deal with this," he said, sounding helpless, as if he was faced with a new and intractable problem.

Tendulkar, though, has been in the centre of the media spotlight longer than his current vice-captain has been alive. As long ago as 1988, some were asking whether he was the greatest schoolboy cricketer ever , and his coach was upset about the distractions faced by the 15-year-old Tendulkar.

It showed that even for someone who had almost casually shouldered the impossible demands of his fans for over two decades, and already owned most of the batting records worth owning, the expectations and media pressure can weigh heavy. "I have to admit I was relieved. This is now out of the way and I can start a new chapter. It was possibly the toughest phase of my life. There was so much hype and attention about the 100th hundred. I thought I possibly batted the best in my life, got close in a couple of games but I couldn't achieve it."

An instance of particular disappointment? "In Delhi (where he made a second-innings 76 against West Indies), I went in to bat in the second innings, it was a critical phase and we won that game but people were only talking about how I missed my hundred."

As the brouhaha over the pending milestone increased, and the team slid from its No. 1 Test ranking, Tendulkar said the support of his family and friends kept him going, especially that of his brother and mentor Ajit. "I talk a lot about cricket with my brother. He has guided me throughout and this is something I want to dedicate to him. We have lived our dream together. Whenever I went in to bat I knew that mentally he was always there with me."

Aside from the hundredth hundred, when asked, he duly produced a list of favourites. Perth 1992, Chennai 2008, Manchester 1990, Chennai 1999, Sydney 2004 were his favourite Test innings, a comical bit of running with Anil Kumble that miraculously didn't end up in a run-out against Bangladesh in 2004 counted as his funniest on-field incident. The only question he hedged on was when asked to pick a hypothetical best bowling attack. "You need one ball to get out," he joked, "I can name at least 25 different bowlers."

The promised 15 minutes with Tendulkar was stretched to 20, at which point the media manager firmly brought an end to the interaction. Those hoping to get Tendulkar's views on the defeats in England and Australia, or even Sunday's key match against Pakistan, were disappointed. Before being ushered out, several of the journalists, even those that had recently questioned Tendulkar's place in the team, lined up for autographs.

Siddarth Ravindran is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on March 20, 2012, 22:02 GMT

    @DhilipRR: I don't agree with you... the same match, Kohli's strike rate was 80%, while Sachin's was 77%, so Kohli was not much better off, while he ought to be as he is among the young breeds... We all think that Sachin played slow, since the media said this, the analysts said this, the critics said this (the last one is the most influential on our minds!!), since they all compare with Sachin's regular performance. Otherwise, he played well enough to make India win... the loss is something the bowlers need to think about... that made them loose in Australia, or England... and now Asia Cup... Sachin's performance is so far par excellence, and as long as he is fit, he is an asset to the team.

  • damodar on March 20, 2012, 19:06 GMT

    @vglant: I don't think so. A more obvious reason for this is the weak Indian bowling, which has allowed opposing batsmen to have many centuries, double centuries and a triple century in the recent test matches and has done badly in ODI series abroad.You need good bowling apart from good batting to win matches. As I had mentioned in my earlier comment below, there are stronger reasons for India's failings. How come even players of the statures of Sangakkara and Jayawardhane could not take their side to 250 inspite of their good showing in the CB series in Australia? One should give credit to Bangladesh for their performances in Ashia cup matches.With stronger bowling performance, India could have easily won the match with the score of 289 that they got.

  • Dhilip on March 20, 2012, 18:30 GMT

    he itself said in his interview..i am under pressure to score my 100th selfish person's milestone caused this loss nothing else... he played very carefully to get tht hundred ..its bangladesh so we can play slowly... its a black mark on him.. if some younster was there from 38 th over they would made india to reach more than 300 for sure...he will say i wan to get my 50th century in ODI, then i want to score my 100th odi 50 ... atleast nw ask him to retire lets build a player like kholi ... pujara and other players are waiting ...

  • H on March 20, 2012, 16:54 GMT

    Sachin Tendulkar got his record but its price was paid by INdia by losing the Asia Cup.

    Shame on Sachin who gives more value to own records than team performance and match outcome.

  • Arpan on March 20, 2012, 16:22 GMT

    Major 2 issues by those critics are: 1. Sachin is not a match-winner 2. Kallis is a better batsman than Sachin. But the CAREER FACTS nullifying those 2 issues are: 1. Sachin averages a whopping 56.63 (ODIs) & 66.59 (Tests) IN **WINS**. 2. Bowlers and NOT pitches play a major role in shaping a batsman's career. Reason: Both the teams get to bowl on the SAME pitch which nullfies it's advantage/disadvantage. And as Indian, I say IND-bowlers (EXCEPT KUMBLE) are/were rubbish & what Kallis gets to face are dibbly-dobblies and what Sachin faces are Steyn, Ntini, Donald, Pollock, Morkel, Fanie, McMillan, Klusener...all legends.

  • Sugumar on March 20, 2012, 12:07 GMT

    Sachin Tendulkar's long-awaited 100th international hundred in Mirpur last week was - rather surprisingly - his first against Bangladesh in one-day internationals. His highest score in 11 previous ODIs against them was 82 not out, in Colombo in July 2004. But Tendulkar has made up for it in Tests, with five centuries in just seven matches against Bangladesh - his average is 136.66 - including his career-highest 248 not out in Dhaka in December 2004. Overall, 20 of Tendulkar's 100 international centuries have come at Australia's expense, then Sri Lanka 17, South Africa 12, England and New Zealand nine, Zimbabwe eight, Pakistan and West Indies seven, Bangladesh six, Kenya four and Namibia one. Another surprise: overall Tendulkar's worst international average is against Ireland - 21.00 from two matches.

  • An on March 20, 2012, 11:41 GMT

    That day I heard someone say: it is being selfish to retire when one is at the top. Did I miss the other statement : Giving topmost priority to personal records is the reflection of selflessness ? I mean... how could he care so less about the humiliation of the Indian team in last two away series ? It was not too long ago! Isn't it too short a time to forget that recent past and feeling happy... relieved... just because he achieved the personal milestone ??!! Doesn't it hurt to know that he didn't feel the same kind of pressure at that time to stop the humiliation as he felt to score the 100th 100 ?? I am not blaming him for any loss... but it is his mindset, which become apparent from his statements and reactions, that he was fully occupied to achieve the personal milestone is really unacceptable!

  • Amol on March 20, 2012, 7:33 GMT

    Averages **IN** AUS: Kallis (ODIs:34.78, Tests:45.75), Sachin(ODIs:34.67, Tests:53.20). So the better one: Sachin.

  • Dummy4 on March 20, 2012, 5:59 GMT

    To those who think Tendulkar's time is at an end.. no young player, or other senior player int he Indian team (with the exception of Virat Kohli) has performed as well, and as consistently as Sachin has, even in the last two years. People have a tendency to point the finger and search for easy answers when things hit the fan. The fact is, Indian cricket is in dire need for drastic change, and ousting Sachin, just like cutting a company workforce in abad economic times, is not the real answer to the problem. It will be interesting to see how the Little Master opens up after relieving the pressure of reaching this milestone. Greats like him will always have my vote, and if history is anything to go by, it won't be the first time he silences his critics.

  • Amol on March 20, 2012, 5:16 GMT

    Averages **IN** AUS: Kallis (ODIs:34.78, Tests:45.75), Sachin(ODIs:34.67, Tests:53.20). So the better one: Sachin.

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