DHAKA After waiting more than a year, Sachin Tendulkar finally became the first cricketer to score 100 international centuries during an Asia Cup one-day match against Bangladesh on Friday.
The 38-year-old further cemented his place as one of the greatest of cricketing greats when he stroked a single off left-arm spinner Shakib Al Hasan to reach the landmark. He has scored 51 centuries in tests and 49 in one-day internationals.
India ultimately lost the match by five wickets but Tendulkar hit 10 boundaries and one six on the way to his hundred, which he reached off 138 deliveries on an easy-paced pitch at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur.
The celebrations for his much-awaited target were muted and Tendulkar looked more relieved than elated after completing the 100th run.
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He stood at the non-striker's end looking at his bat for a moment before thanking the heavens. He then raised his helmet towards the crowd, planted a kiss on the Indian cricket logo and was hugged by team mate Suresh Raina.
Tendulkar said the achievement had yet to sink in.
"It was a tough phase for me. Especially tough when you know that I started off this season batting reasonably well," a tired-looking Tendulkar told the NEO Cricket channel.
"I batted well in Australia. I felt at times I was luckless. Doesn't matter how many hundreds you score, you still have to put your head down, grind it out and do the job for the team.
"It hasn't sunk in but I have definitely lost about 50 kilos."
It took the greatest accumulator of runs in international cricket more than a year to score his coveted hundred after he reached 99 centuries with his 111 against South Africa in the World Cup in Nagpur on March 12 last year.
"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 house keeping, 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.
"The 99 hundreds that I scored, nobody spoke about them. Everyone had their opinion but eventually I have got to do what is important for the team."
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said Tendulkar was an inspiration for the country.
"I join the nation in congratulating Sachin Tendulkar on his making history -- a hundred centuries," the prime minister's office said in 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."
Tendulkar was finally out for 114 off 147 balls, hitting 12 boundaries and a six.
(Writing by Sudipto Ganguly in Mumbai; editing by John Mehaffey)