Sachin Tendulkar has said his 100th international hundred "was the toughest of them all", after achieving the milestone against Bangladesh, in Mirpur, during the Asia Cup. Tendulkar went 33 innings without a century between India's group match against South Africa in the World Cup and Friday's game in Mirpur, and admitted it had been a "tough phase". He said he had not really started thinking about the 100th hundred until the media began to talk about it, but it had started to play on his mind after a while.
"Yes, I have to be honest. I am human and I have emotions so I was frustrated. It does play on your mind," Tendulkar said at the post-match press conference.
During the mid-innings break, he had explained to television commentator Ramiz Raja how he had not been able to get away from talk about his 100th hundred. "It's been a tough phase for me. I started off the season batting reasonably well. I was luckless. I am not playing only for my 100th hundred. It doesn't matter how many hundreds you score, you still put your head down, grind it out and do the job for the team.
"I was not thinking about the milestone, the media started all this; wherever I went, the restaurant, room service, everyone was talking about the 100th hundred. Nobody talked about my 99 hundreds. It became mentally tough for me because nobody talked about my 99 hundreds."
Despite the struggle to get to his 100th hundred and the pressure that that had built up around it, Tendulkar was able to joke about having finally achieved it, saying he had shed "50 kilos" with the 114 he made on Friday.
Tendulkar took 36 balls to go from 80 to 100 in Mirpur, but insisted he was not playing for the record. "The hundred was not the only thing on my mind. I was thinking about getting a good total for the team. When I looked at the scoreboard, I was looking at the run-rate and what we needed to do; I was avoiding looking at my personal score."
The wait for the milestone, Tendulkar said, had made him realise the value of an international century, while the varying opinions on whether or not he should continue his pursuit had not affected him. "After scoring 99 tons you are made to realise the value of a hundred. It's not easy, it was a testing period, but there were many people who helped me.
"There are opinions, some for some against. I don't read them, I have a job to do. Ups and downs are a part of life, there is no person who has not experienced it, and they teach you a lot in life.
"I am glad about the journey. It has tested my patience, my character. So many people have had questions, I don't read any of them. Somebody who has not gone through this will have only questions, not answers."
When asked about what lay ahead, Tendulkar was firm that he was not yet considering retirement, in fact mentioning that he was glad the milestone was "out of the way, so I can focus on the matches now".
"When I consider retirement, don't worry, I will not hide it from anyone. I will play as long as I am enjoying it and as long as I can contribute to the team. I don't play for milestones; that is a perception created by a few members of the media. I play cricket because I enjoy it."
In the mid-innings break, when Ramiz asked Tendulkar what message he wanted to send to youngsters who witnessed him make history, Tendulkar said it was important to never give up on chasing your dreams. "Enjoy the game and chase your dreams," he said. "Dreams do come true. I had to wait for 22 years for India to win the World Cup."
Edited by Tariq Engineer and Dustin Silgardo