India heaps tributes on 'immortal' Tendulkar

India goes gaga as cricket star ends nation's year-long wait for 100th century and confirms place among sporting greats.

    Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said Tendulkar was an inspiration for the country [EPA]
    Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said Tendulkar was an inspiration for the country [EPA]

    Indian media have gone gaga over Sachin Tendulkar, the country's iconic cricket star who completed a long-awaited "century of centuries" against Bangladesh on Friday to crown his status as the greatest batsman of the game's modern era.

    The front pages of broadsheet newspapers were splashed with the historic feat on Saturday, while electronic media trumpeted the record on prime time, even though India went on to lose the Asia Cup one-day match against a country considered a cricketing minnow.

    Most newspapers engraved their mastheads with Tendulkar’s ton of tons, with New Delhi-based newspaper Hindustan Times calling him the "God of all things", while the Mail Today said "Sachin finally scales Mt 100".

    Indian Express newspaper’s front page headline was "Mathemagic", listing every one of Tendulkar's three-figure international innings.

    The New Delhi-based paper wrote in its editorial: "At a time when heroes are created and almost simultaneously crucified, Sachin Tendulkar stands for enduring excellence and integrity."

    Mumbai-based Daily News and Analysis newspaper contrasted it with the federal budget presented on the same day as Sachin’s century: "Budget bores, Sachin scores".

    Manmohan Singh, the Indian prime minister, issued a statement: "He has made India proud. Tendulkar's long career has been a triumph of class, character and courage. Wish him many more innings and feats to continue inspiring the youth."

    Critics and sports journalists wrote paeans in praise of the little master, as he is popularly called.

    'Unquenchable zest'

    Columnist Ayaz Memon wrote in the Mail Today: "To play for 23 years requires not just great expertise and physical stamina, but also motivation and an unquenchable zest for the game."

    "For sheer consistency of run-making and strike rates in these formats, only Viv Richards, Brian Lara and Ricky Ponting would feature in the same bracket as Tendulkar - but none of them where scoring centuries is concerned," he wrote.

    Sharda Ugra, senior editor at ESPNcricinfo, wrote: "The context of Tendulkar's 100th century will be remembered today, tomorrow, even at the end of his career. Debating societies will exhaust themselves over its significance, particularly what transpired between 99 and 100."

    Since his 1989 Karachi debut, Sachin has scored almost 34,000 international runs from 188 Test matches, 462 one-dayers and one T20 international.

    He is literally worshiped in a country where cricket is followed like a religion.

    He has often been compared with the great Australian cricketer Don Bradman, and Bradman once remarked that the Indian's batting reminded him of his own playing days.

    The Times of India columnist Bobilli Vijay Kumar equated Tendulkar with football great Pele and Olympics record holder Michael Phelps.

    "Pele's goals, Michael Phelps' gold-medal haul, Bob Beamon's 8.90-metre leap, Lance Armstrong's tumultuous affair with the Tour de France all belong in a class of their own; they may be called 'The Impossibles', simply because they leave you awestruck. Tendulkar has now joined that list of immortals, with his own impossible century of centuries."

    The man of the moment admitted it was a tense period for him as well since his last century scored nearly a year ago.

    "Precisely a year ago when I got my 99th hundred no one spoke about it during the World Cup. And then it was I guess the media who started all these," Tendulkar added.

    "Wherever I went, to restaurants, the housekeeping, the room service, whoever I met just spoke about the 100th hundred.  It became a little difficult mentally, because I am not playing only for my 100th hundred.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


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