When Sachin Tendulkar clipped Shakib Al Hasan to square leg during the Asia Cup encounter between India and Bangladesh on March 16, 2012 at the Asia Cup, there was a mixture of history and relief. History because Sachin Tendulkar finally became the first individual in the history of cricket to score 100 international centuries. There was relief for the fans, who had to endure a painful 369 days. On March 11, in the World Cup encounter against South Africa at Jamtha in Nagpur, Tendulkar had slammed a brilliant century his 99th and there was expectations from the fans that the next match would result in his 100th century. The century against South Africa gave rise to massive expectations, but what the fans and Tendulkar himself endured would be pain and frustration.
Many people expected Tendulkar to get to his 100th century in either the semi-final or the final. He fell for 85 against Pakistan in Mohali and was dismissed cheaply in the World Cup. However, all that was forgotten as India had erased 28 years of pain to win the World Cup and become the first nation to achieve the feat at home.
When India toured England in 2011, in each match Tendulkar came out to bat, there was hope. The fans felt this was the right opportunity to correct his poor record at Lord’s but it was not meant to be as he was dismissed cheaply. More disappointment followed in Trent Bridge and Edgbaston but at The Oval, there was a chance. Tendulkar was dropped four times and on 91, Tendulkar looked set to smash his 100th ton but he was trapped LBW by Tim Bresnan for 91. The hearts of a billion fans sank.
Against the West Indies in his hometown of Mumbai, Tendulkar had the chance to break the hoodoo but on 94, he edged Ravi Rampaul to Darren Sammy as the wait was prolonged. With every passing series, day and match, the monkey on his back grew like a gorilla. The Australian tour beckoned and many felt this was the right place to break the hoodoo. However, he was dismissed for 73 and 80 in the Melbourne and Sydney Tests and he ended the tour without a single ton.
Heading into the Asia Cup, India were now getting frustrated with Tendulkar’s inability to get to the 100th century. It did not help that India were hammered 4-0 in the Tests in England and Australia and endured a torrid time in limited overs. Heading into the clash against Bangladesh, it seemed the wait would be prolonged.
Tendulkar started slowly after India chose to bat in the Asia Cup encounter in Mirpur. The Mumbai batsman got going with a boundary off Mashrafe Mortaza, Shafiul Islam and Shahadat Hossain. Tendulkar got to his first fifty since the 2011 clash against Pakistan off 63 balls but as he reached the landmark, he was getting slower. As he neared his century, his strike-rate was 72.5 and India were staring at a below-par score. Tendulkar was struck on 98 for close to two overs but when he got to the landmark, the celebrations were more of relief. Finally, the 100th hundred was achieved. The gorilla was off his back.
Tendulkar smashed two consecutive boundaries and looked to change gears but he fell for 114 off 147 balls as India finished on 289/5. In response, Tamim Iqbal (70), Jahurul Islam (53) and Nasir Hossain (54) put Bangladesh on course but a 40-ball 49 from Shakib and a brilliant 46 off 25 balls from Mushfiqur Rahim helped Bangladesh win by six wickets and spoil Tendulkar’s moment.
India failed to reach the knockouts and Tendulkar’s 100th international century was a bittersweet moment. Following the end of the Asia Cup, Tendulkar announced his retirement from ODIs but went on to play 200 Tests when he announced his final retirement during the series against West Indies in 2013. It was a great moment for Tendulkar and it consolidated his legacy as one of the greatest players ever, but for Indian cricket fans, it was a painful moment which finally ended on March 16.