It was the toughest hundred: Sachin
Mirpur, Mar 16: Master batsman Sachin Tendulkar reached his much-awaited international hundredth ton, against Bangladesh at Mirpur today. The veteran batsman spoke about the journey to the summit in the post-match press conference, admitting to being frustrated at his thwarted attempts to reach the milestone since his 99th ton.
Excerpts from the media interaction:
On getting to his hundredth hundred but India losing the match
[There are] all these mixed feelings. Obviously, we wanted to get to a good total. I was batting with Virat [Kohli] and that’s when we felt that 275-280 was a good total on this surface. He mentioned to me that this surface was different to the one that we played on earlier. We got a decent total, 289 is a decent total, and I felt that we were [in the game] till the end. [From the] last three overs, [Bangladesh required] 33 runs. [I] felt we were very much in control but there were some good shots played and that’s where I felt that the game slipped away.
On the journey so far
It’s been a tough journey, especially when you know you are batting well. I know I was batting well in Australia and in England, in patches I batted well. In Mumbai again I got so close to getting my hundred and then for some reason it was just not happening. Not that I was not batting well; I felt possibly [in the] first couple of Test matches, I was really moving well. I can say that maybe in the last three years I have batted the best – that’s what I have felt. But somehow the hundred was not happening. I am glad that it is out of the way and I can focus on the game again.
On whether ‘god’ was testing the ‘cricketing god’ for some reason
First of all, I am not god. I am a cricketer; I am Sachin. And yes, after scoring 99 hundreds, you still are made to realise the value of hundred. It is not easy to get a hundred and it was just a testing period for me. It was tough. There were many guys who helped me and I want to thank all of them. Many well-wishers and many guys who prayed for me – it means a lot to me. So continue [doing that]; wish well for me and I will try my best.
On the bowlers failing to defend the total and on India falling short by at least 30 runs
At the end of the day, you will have many opinions because it is the end of the day, not during the match. I felt it was a decent total; 290 on any surface is not a small total. Sometimes you also have to give credit to the opposition; they are here to win as well. They played some good cricket. I felt that they approached the game really well and the chase was very good. Those big shots, they [really] connected. Our bowlers tried their best, but you are not always successful in defending totals. This is just one of those things. If Australia can lose against South Africa after having scored 434 runs, whom do you blame there?
On the importance of milestones
I don’t play for milestones. I play cricket and I want to enjoy cricket. It’s somehow the perception, created by possibly a few of you guys sitting here, because you write [about these things]. I don’t play for milestones. While playing this [game], [you’re on] a journey where you end up breaking records and all that but I don’t play for records. It is not that.
On the journey from Old Trafford, where he scored his first century, to Mirpur
Definitely the hundredth hundred was the toughest one to get, I can say that.
On the talk surrounding his milestone and luck not being in his favour
I knew in my heart that I am batting well. There are going to be various opinions, some in favour [of me and] some against me – whatever. I don’t follow all those things because I have to focus on the game. I have got a really important job to do and that is where my focus is; [my job] requires a lot of concentration and focus. I was only looking at the controllables – [that is] what I can control – and looking at giving my best. Ups and downs [are inevitable]; I don’t think there is any person who has not experienced those. And the same is the case with me. It happens to all the players and that is also a learning process that teaches you a lot in life. Not that I have taken thing for granted. I was working hard [and] I was practicing hard but sometimes it just doesn’t happen. Luck is not on your side and I felt occasionally luck was not on my side.
On whether he was frustrated
Yes! I’ve got to be honest here. I am human too and I have emotions. I was frustrated and it does play on your mind sometimes.
On the one year it took to reach the landmark
I was always human.
On approaching the hundredth 100 and his feelings on achieving it
My feeling was – Thank God! It was a testing time so I just thank God for whatever has come my way. Something that is really important is not to take things for granted and that is what I believe in. Whatever score I was batting on, it was not [a guarantee] that [the hundred] was going to happen, because earlier also I got pretty close to getting hundreds but it didn’t happen. So till the end you [have] got to be on your toes and make sure that whatever the team may have planned, you execute that. It wasn’t that after scoring hundred my job was over; I wanted to carry on. I tried one shot to beat point and third man, [but] it didn’t work. But the hundred wasn’t the only thing on my mind. To put up a decent total was really important today.
On whether he kept track of his score
I was avoiding looking at the scoreboard. I was looking at the runs, run-rate and all those kind of things but I was not looking at my personal score.
On the Indian bowlers’ performance today
I think today was a tough day for our bowlers. Not every day will be tough; every day is different. In cricket sometimes you can defend a total of 225. These things happen. We need not panic and we need to definitely look at where we need to get better. But it’s not the time to panic.
On Bangladesh cricket team’s progress over the years
I feel it is a good team, an underrated team. There is still talk about Bangladesh as if they don’t know how to play cricket. But that is not the fact. They have a good side and they’ve played good cricket, even against Pakistan the match got really close. That itself is proof that they’ve improved. They’ve played some good cricket and you have to give credit to them. They’ve been in international cricket for quite some time now; it’s not that they’ve just started. Today obviously Shakib [Al Hasan] came and changed the momentum of the game. Tamim [Iqbal] is a good player and later on the captain Mushfiqur Rahim [too contributed].
On the pressure of scoring the 100th century
After Nagpur [his 99th century vs South Africa], you guys [in the media] didn’t write much about it, even when the World Cup was on. That wasn’t on your mind either, like [it wasn’t on mine]. Only before the England series there was a build up. I didn’t go to the West Indies because I wanted to score my hundred in England [was the perception], [but it was] nothing like that. You can’t plan and score a hundred; [if one could], a lot of things would have happened in my life [as per plan]. You always go out to score a hundred as a batsman, which means you have contributed something to your team. You ask any batsman – [they’ll tell you] they would like to go out and score a hundred. But you are not always able to do that. That journey has been really tough; it tested my character my patience, and frustration levels – all these things. Somebody who’s not gone through this will only have questions and not answers.
On whether he thought his career lacked a century against Bangladesh
I didn’t even know that I had not got a hundred against Bangladesh. I am not somebody who likes to look at statistics. It would take up a lot of my time; I need to practice so I [spend] more time practicing. But it’s nice that I’ve been able to do that and for a batsman to be amongst runs is always good.
On practicing on the eve of this match
I came here and practiced yesterday. It was suppose to be a rest day but I thought I should come and hit a few balls; that could only help. So I did that – not that other players didn’t want to practice; it was suppose to be a rest day. I felt comfortable coming to the ground and wanted to hit a few balls. To have that ‘feel factor’ is really important and I felt better [after nets].
On playing against Pakistan next
Playing against Pakistan is always challenging, right from 1989. It definitely made me a better player. That process hasn’t stopped; it continues and you keep learning. You keep making mistakes and you keep going back and you don’t want to repeat them. So it’s not like one wouldn’t make mistakes after 20 years. I would just like to enjoy my cricket and give it my best. The next match is going to be really challenging and really important for us. We’ll go back and regroup and have some strategies and execute them.