Sunday, January 15, 2012

Sachin's 100th Hundred? Big Deal! || Vishaal Loganathan

Yes, it has been 10 matches (now 13!) (Tests and ODIs) since Sachin Tendulkar has scored a century, which would incidentally be his 100th international hundred. The expectations around the great man getting to the landmark are huge and every failure to get there - even if his innings was a good one - comes with its share of 'Sachin should retire now', 'I think, Petrol will reach 100 before Sachin does' and the ones used ad-nauseum, 'Sachin isn't a match winner' and 'He's selfish, he plays only for his records'. No one seemed to care about the potentially match winning innings he played during the first match of the ongoing tour against the West Indies. Everyone seemed to be waiting with bated breath for Sachin's hundred so much that they forgot how important his innings was in the context of the game.

For me, the 100th hundred remains just another milestone, not one that merits so much hype. Understandably, for a nation that is crazy about Sachin Tendulkar and statistics, the milestone is a dream come true - 100 is a magical number in cricket, one that every player yearns to reach, and it is only expected that a century of centuries be associated with so much hullabaloo. The achievement however fails to tell us anything new - Sachin still has the highest number of hundreds, runs and matches to his name. If there's one thing that it does, it will show the enormous amount of respect and inspiration Sachin commands around the world - but we didn't really need the hundredth hundred to tell us this, did we?

Getting to 30 tons was a milestone worth appreciating. He had just crossed Don Bradman's tally - the other half in the World's Greatest Batsman Ever debate. The 35th hundred too had a lot of significance, since Sachin had become the person with the most number of hundreds in Tests and that was a reason to rejoice. The 50th hundred? Well, we already knew how good Sachin Tendulkar was. 100 hundreds? About time, can we get on with the cricket please.

India's top priority right now in Tests will be to get back the No. 1 ranking and ensuring that the fans are made to forget the debacle at England (not with a worse one, mind you!). The majority seems to echo these thoughts, with a recent poll on Cricbuzz indicating that India winning was far more important than Sachin's ton. A significant 61% wanted an Indian win even if that meant Sachin failed.

Sachin's career has always been under scrutiny - by people who are waiting to pounce on every opportunity to show to the world that he's the best and by the others who are trying to prove someone else is. These have hardly affected the man, but for perhaps the first time he has shown that he is vulnerable to pressure from outside.

The hype around the 100th hundred unfortunately has been a deterrent to the Master Blaster. Having averaged a brilliant 78+ in Tests last year, Sachin's average has dropped to the forties since his last century, but that includes the disastrous tour to England where no one except Rahul 'The Wall' Dravid managed to hold his own. Sachin's average still does not merit the outrageous calls by many to drop him based on his poor performances or get someone younger in lieu of him. A famous personality on Twitter asked his followers how long it will be before Sachin is dropped for his disappointing show. Unfortunately, this clearly shows the obsession we have towards records and statistics - It's a hundred and no less that is expected from Sachin. A stellar batting effort to save the game or a gritty knock to help the team avoid follow on, etc, would hold absolutely no value in relation to a scratchy 100 on a belter of a track. If he fails, people will still reckon it is time for Sachin to hang his boots up because they are unable to wait for him to get to the elusive figure.

It's about time we stop obsessing over Sachin and his around-the-corner ton. The 100th ton proves nothing except what has already been said, written or discussed. There are more important things India have to set their sights on and if Sachin helps India get there with a ton, fantastic!

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