(Fixes typo in final para)
By Amlan Chakraborty
NEW DELHI, March 16 A mythical statistic
attributes one third of India's road accidents to drivers
craning their neck out to catch a glimpse of Sachin Tendulkar
reaching a century on a television set in a roadside shop.
Roads in India should be marginally safer for the
pedestrians after the man from Mumbai finally got his
long-awaited 100th international century against Bangladesh in
an Asia Cup match on Friday.
Industry bosses must curse him as India's biggest single
cause for sudden falls in productivity levels. Every time
Tendulkar nears the 100-mark, the world's second most populous
nation comes to a standstill, almost as a ritual.
Since his 1989 Karachi debut, what the 38-year-old has
accumulated is much more than scoring almost 34,000
international runs from 188 test matches, 462
one-dayers and one T20 international.
The curly-haired boy with a sing-song voice has acquired an
aura that only grew over the last last couple of decades.
Some of his fans, and they are sizeable, have lost interest
in the Don Bradman v Sachin Tendulkar debate.
They suggest it is rather Don v God.
Putting aside the obvious exaggeration, the great Australian
once remarked that the diminutive Indian's batting reminded him
of his own playing days and many feel the debate should rest
When it comes to accumalating runs, Tendulkar has
established himself as the greatest cricketer of all time and if
the bowlers he has tormented for over 22 years wanted to blame
someone for his never-ending run spree, accusing fingers would
be pointed at Dennis Lillee and Waqar Younis.
Lillee for not entertaining then school student Tendulkar's
request at a Chennai bowling academy to mould him into a fast
bowler and instead advising him to work on his batting.
Waqar for hitting Tendulkar on the mouth in the 1989 series
in Pakistan where both made their debuts. The wunderkind batted
with a blood-soaked shirt in that match and more than two
decades since that incident, bowlers across the cricketing world
continue to bleed boundaries to the little master.
Javed Miandad was part of the squad Tendulkar made his debut
against and the former Pakistan skipper said he could sense he
was watching someone very special.
"We had heard a lot about this teenager from Mumbai and
there was lot of hype surrounding his debut in the Karachi
test," Miandad told Reuters.
"He looked a good player but as the series progressed, we
knew here was a great player in the making.
"The first real signs of his immense talent came during a
match in Peshawar in that series when he hit Abdul Qadir for
(three) sixes (in a row) even when he was under pressure."
Shoaib Mohammad was also part of that Pakistan team and he
recollected how the teenager negotiated an attack that included
Imran Khan, Wasim Akram, Waqar and Qadir.
"I recall how Imran, Wasim and Waqar bounced at this
16-year-old and how he responded with courage. At that time I
remember some of us discussing how this young fellow appeared to
have loads of talent," he said.
Even Vinod Kambli, who starred in a 664-run unbroken
partnership with Tendulkar in a school match, had considerable
talent as evident from the couple of double centuries and two
centuries he struck in his first seven test matches.
But while Kambli's international career stalled in 1995,
Tendulkar combined talent with toil to reach where he is today.
Even after so many years, Tendulkar spends as much time in
the nets as the youngest member of the side, is meticulous about
his fitness and prepares with the same seriousness.
The man eats cricket, drinks cricket and even sleeps cricket
-- and team mates vouch for the last.
Salil Ankola, who played his only five-day match in the same
Karachi test with Tendulkar, revealed in a 2009 interview that
Tendulkar sleepwalked into a team mate's room in Pakistan and
asked if the bats he had ordered had arrived.
There are also apocryphal stories that if he loses his
wicket cheaply to any unheralded bowler, he keeps muttering his
name in his sleep and tries to settle the score in their next
Tendulkar never clears the air and the enigma grows on.
A fiercely private man, Tendulkar's success is partially
because of his ability to insulate himself from the maddening
adulation showered on him by a cricket-crazy nation.
Miandad insists Tendulkar is a guiding light for all
"He is a role model for a generation of cricketers. I keep
on telling our youngsters -- here is a cricketer they can learn
so much from. Just learn from the way he has dedicated his life
to cricket," he said.
Another former Pakistan captain Rashid Latif, who spent time
with the Indian at Lashings Cricket Club in England, was stumped
by Tendulkar's humility.
"What impressed me was that despite his success, he was so
humble and simple," he said.
For a man who possess virtually every batting record worth
possessing -- including the first ODI double century --
Tendulkar burnt his fingers with captaincy and has swiftly
transformed into the king-maker since.
He is a vital part of every Indian think-tank and it was at
his recommendation that Mahendra Singh Dhoni was named the
captain of the side.
Tendulkar is omnipresent in this part of the globe, peeping
from television screens and giant billboards peddling cement,
credit card, educational loan, digital camera, cold drinks,
energy drinks and even promoting egg consumption, milking every
ounce of the brand Sachin.
He dismisses retirement talk like a rank full toss and
maintains he is enjoying his game and that is not good news for
(Editing by Pritha Sarkar; To query or comment on this story