Sachin Tendulkar has amassed plenty of records in his illustrious career. He has the highest number of centuries in ODIs and Tests, the most number of runs in both formats and runs against all oppositions and in all countries. Name any record and out comes Tendulkar’s name on top. In Tests, Tendulkar’s ability to score runs against the best opposition attacks made him the absolute gold standard. December 19, in particular, is a memorable day for all Indian and world cricket fans. It was on this day, eight years ago, that Tendulkar became the first and so far, only cricketer to reach 50 Test centuries. He achieved this feat in the 2010 Centurion Test against South Africa.
India had gotten off to a bad start. On a green pitch and with plenty of rain heading into the build-up, South Africa won a crucial toss and chose to field. Morne Morkel picked up 5/20 and Dale Steyn ended with 3/34 as India was bundled out for 136. Tendulkar showed his mettle with a solid 36. South Africa amassed 620/4 declared, with Hashim Amla scoring 140 but Jacques Kallis stole the show by registering his maiden double century and he was well supported by AB de Villiers, who blasted five sixes and 12 fours in his knock of 129.
India put up a better show in the second innings with Gautam Gambhir (80) and Virender Sehwag (63) giving MS Dhoni’s side a great platform for a revival. However, a lower-middle order collapse saw India staring down the barrel and it was left to Dhoni and Tendulkar to once again revive India’s fortunes. Both shared a 172-run stand for the seventh wicket, with Dhoni in particular batting in an aggressive manner. Tendulkar still had time to create his own personal history and he became the first batsman to reach 50 Test centuries when he drove Steyn to the deep extra cover region for a single. The celebrations that echoed around Centurion were testament to his greatness.
However, when Dhoni was dismissed for 90, the end seemed near. Bad light forced the Test to be dragged into the fifth day. India could last only seven more overs as they were bowled out for 459, with Tendulkar unbeaten on 111. India lost by an innings and 25 runs but for Tendulkar, the tour proved to be resounding success as he smashed his 51st Test century in the same series in Cape Town. Tendulkar survived a fierce spell from Steyn and Morkel to cement his reputation as one of the greatest the game has ever had.