Agencies, Mumbai Batting maestro Sachin Tendulkar rewrotethe record books after he notched up his 81st first-classcentury to equal the original little master Sunil Gavaskar’slong standing record of most centuries by an Indian in firstclass cricket in the ongoing Irani Cup game against Rest ofIndia (ROI) at the Wankhede Stadium here today.
Tendulkar, who took just 139 deliveries to post his ton,played some breathtaking shots, especially in the arc betweenlong off and cover, to bring up his new landmark in his 303rdfirst class game and rescue his side after losing six crucialwickets with just 257 runs on the board. Coming in at three down, one place below his normal battingorder as night watchman Shardul Thakur was sent in ahead ofhim late yesterday, the batting icon was holding his own forhis team in reply to the massive score of 526 by ROI in theirfirst innings.
India discards Harbhajan Singh and S Sreesanth failed tomake any impact on Tendulkar, who knocked them around the parkas they tried every trick in the trade to get rid of him. He completed the 100 with a single off S Sreesanth whotried to unsettle him with short-pitched balls. Sachin’s knock was enshrined with 12 fours and two sixes -one each off left-arm-spinner Pragyan Ojha and off-spinnerHarbhajan Singh, the second one also bringing his halfcentury. In the process of his century, Sachin also totalled 25,000runs in first-class cricket.
A staggering achievement, and ascommentator Kapil Dev put it ‘such figures are impossible toachieve in book cricket as well!’ 51 of Sachin’s tally of hundreds have come while playingfor India, 18 while playing for Mumbai in Ranji, 3 in DuleepTrophy, 2 in Irani Cup, 5 in India’s tour games, 1 against avisiting side and 1 for Yorkshire. Sachin is the 43rd batsman in all first-class cricket tohave made at least 81 hundreds.
The record for most centuriesthough, is a whopping 199 by Jack Hobbs! Tendulkar’s maiden first class hundred had also come at thesame ground against Gujarat in December, 1988. In international cricket, the iconic batsman has 100hundreds, including 49 in ODIs, a format from which he retiredbefore the home series against Pakistan recently. With the Test series against Australia starting on February22, Sachin’s recent form would add a lot of firepower to therelatively rookie line-up.