History beckons Sachin at Eden

Kolkata:  Will he? Won’t he? That’s the question wracking cricket buffs as they pray Sachin Tendulkar reaches the much-awaited milestone of a century of international tons during the second Test against the West Indies at the historic Eden Gardens, a ground that the batting genius had once called the “home of cricket”.

India play West Indies Nov 14-18.

After scoring a century in the Cape Town Test against South Africa, Jan 2, Sachin has failed to play even one triple figure knock in the 11 Test innings where he has come to the middle, the highest being 91 at Oval during India’s disastrous English tour in summer.

However, he did get two ODI hundreds during this time – 120 against England at Bangalore and 111 facing South Africa in Nagpur. The last one came March 12.

It was almost 22 years back that a shy 16 year old boy with curly hair and an ocean of talent made his international debut at the Karachi Test against Pakistan, with cricketing experts like Sunil Gavaskar prophesying the advent of a player capable of breaking all batting records that one can think of.

Years later, the legendary Don Bradman – considered the greatest batsmen of all times – asked his wife to take a look at the Indian as he felt Tendulkar played like him. It was Tendulkar’s technique, compactness, and shot production that endeared him most to the Aussie, according to Roland Perry, who authored the book “Don’s Best”.

Fifty-one centuries in 182 Test matches and 48 in 453 ODIs is ample testimony of the visionary qualities of these wise men.

But the one century – that would make the little Mumbaikar the first ever batsman in 138 years of international cricket history to complete a historic feat of 100 tons – has been on wait for eight months.

And Kolkatans are hoping it will be at the Eden, a ground where Tendulkar has got only two tons in 10 Tests. His average a tad below 50, as opposed to 56.14 overall in Tests.

The five-feet-five-inch batsman had to wait till his sixth Test at the Eden to get his maiden ton in the coliseum-like stadium. The jinx was finally broken Nov 3, 2002, when he got a strokeful 176 in the second innings against the Carl Hooper led West Indies to rescue India from a tottering 87/4 with a 214-run stand alongside V.V.S Laxman (154). It was his 31st Test century.

“Honoured to score a century at the home of cricket,” said a relaxed but happy Tendulkar after the feat.

The second century came last year, when he struck 106 against South Africa, a match that made India the number one Test team of the world.

And as Tendulkar prepares to take guard at the hallowed ground again, cricket fans here are hoping to see history being made before their eyes.

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