MUMBAI: The last time Sachin Tendulkar played in his backyard at the Wankhede Stadium on April 2, he realized his dream of being a World Cup winner.
As a fitting tribute for his invaluable contribution to Indian cricket over 22 years, his teammates carried the legend on their shoulders as they completed a lap of honour around Mumbai’s Big W.
Now as the cricketing sage makes another pilgrimage to the Wankhede, the nation, if not the world, will again holds its breath as it yearns to see Tendulkar complete a perfect century by adding one more precious gem to his necklace of hundreds.
Batting brilliantly since his 91 at the Oval in England, to his 76 at Kotla and the 38 at the Eden in the last two Tests against the West Indies, the Little Maestro himself is a bit surprised to know how the magic figure of 100 has become an obsession for over a billion people.
But then his countless adoring fans have been spoilt by the man himself. The country has sought joy and relief and savoured his super-human accomplishments for over two decades. And the genius of Tendulkar has delivered. Unfailingly and almost always.
Not surprisingly then, a century drought-if one may call it-in the last 15 innings since March 12 this year has been weighing heavily on everyone’s mind. Already in this series, he has been stopped in his stride twice by an overwhelmed Devendra Bishoo. So he would rather get the monkey off his back and give his fans another reason to celebrate.
While his strokeplay has been impeccably pleasing, it is perhaps the eagerness that seems to be getting in the way. Just like when he tried to pull Bishoo past mid-on but ended up holing out to mid-on in Kolkata.
The familiar settings of Wankhede and a delirious and raucous home crowd, should act as a catalyst for Tendulkar to scale Peak 100 K. For the record, the Mumbai Master has scored only one Test hundred at this ground against Sri Lanka in December 1997.
It’s indeed been a long time and the setting seems just perfect. If only he could get rid of the over-eagerness to get to the landmark.
Tendulkar’s son Arjun had once advised him to play the big shots to get rid of the nervous nineties and it wouldn’t be a bad idea for Tendulkar to revisit that strategy and get back to his attacking ways that made the crowds scream S-a-a-c-h-i-n, S-a-a-c-h-i-n.
Come Tuesday, that familiar chant should reverberate around the Wankhede again when the batting legend steps out to bat.