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Wait for Tendulkar's 100th ton continues

New Delhi: Just what must have been going through Sachin Tendulkar's mind when, on 94, six runs away from THE HUNDRED, he steered a short ball from outside off stump to second slip? It was a one-day shot, in essence uncalled for in the situation, with India still some ways away from avoiding the follow-on.

It was an awkward way for Tendulkar to perish, for he has rarely played an attacking stroke when in the nineties in Test cricket. Perhaps even he got overwhelmed by the situation. Perhaps the crowd's baying for a boundary got to his head. We will know only if Tendulkar speaks. But it appeared he wanted to get the moment out of the way as soon as possible; perhaps in the first 45 minutes of play.

Everything looked right about Tendulkar this morning until he played that shot. His body language was cool, he took big forward strides to meet the new ball and his shots were solid, punctuated by the perfect follow-through. Two flicks, one past mid-on for two and the other whipped past square leg for four, set the pulses racing. A trademark straight-driven four was one for the purists and four balls later when Tendulkar sumptuously drove Fidel Edwards through the covers for four more, the anticipation at the Wankhede surged. This was a hungry Tendulkar. He was not retreating into a shell this morning.

On the last ball of that over, Edwards hurled one down at pace and Tendulkar, arching his back, uppercut the ball for six over third man. The fans went wild.

It was evident Tendulkar had attack on his mind, and that he was going for the landmark in a bold manner. Unfortunately, that's as far as his aggression lasted. It got the better of him, in fact.

Can you fault him for getting out? No, it would be too harsh. He had looked surreal until the moment he perished, and it was one of the most commanding ways a batsman could move from the sixties into the nineties. Perhaps he misjudged Rampaul's pace; against Edwards that shot may have carried over Darren Sammy. Who knows what thoughts have ravished his head for the past 222 days, since he got to century No. 99. I would like to believe that he just wanted to get it done with and move on.

Tendulkar's bid for an unparalleled century of centuries had been the talking point ever since he reached No. 99 against South Africa during the World Cup on March 11. Tendulkar had eight Test innings in England to achieve the feat, but managed 273 runs with a best of 91 in the final Test at The Oval as India were hammered 4-0. In this current series, he had twice got solid starts only to fall to loose shots; in the second innings of the Delhi Test, Tendulkar was on 76 when he was out lbw trying to pull Devendra Bishoo and in Kolkata he made 38 before pulling the same bowler to midwicket. Here, he cruised to 94 before falling to his own aggression.

On a day when countless people expected to talk about a century, they will probably end up dissecting a 94. That is the beauty of this game.



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