We remember Sachin Tendulkar’s first of the hundred centuries. Of course we do, even if we didn’t watch it live, the images from that match are imprinted on our minds through highlights and images of the baby-faced batter leading his team off the field after saving the Test. And if you were too young for that, there is probably the Boost advertisement, where a slightly older but still baby-faced Tendulkar recalls being surrounded by seven fielders trying to disturb his concentration, but he found the energy to get past the milestone. That was his secret, we all believed.
On August 14, 1990, Tendukar had to stand up and deliver with his side in some trouble against England in a Test match at Manchester. Chasing 408 on the final day, the visitors were tottering at 183/6 with the likes of skipper Mohammad Azharuddin, Kapil Dev and Dilip Vengsarkar dismissed.
Having scored a fluent 68 in the first innings where Azharuddin scored 179, the youngster now needed to do find something extra to stop his team from going 2-0 down in the series. And that’s exactly what he did. The teenager went on to score an unbeaten 119 and crucially bat out the remaining overs to help India draw the Test.
Beyond all that, however, what Tendulkar remembered too that day is the dread of attending his first press conference at the end of it all. A 17-year-old had to face up to the media after his first player of the match award at the international level.
“Not to forget that that was my first man of the match and that’s why I had to go and attend the press conference,” Tendulkar had said on his YouTube channel.
“Now this was a new thing for me, I was not familiar with it and everyone in the dressing room scared me to bits like you will not believe. Whoever came next to me said, ‘oh, a press conference, you are in trouble’. But that time Madhav Mantri sir was there [India’s manager on that tour] who was quite old at that time, I think he was almost close to 70 or so [one month short of 70, actually]. So he put him put his arm around me and said ‘you don’t worry I’ll come with you and I’ll make sure that everything’s fine, don’t worry’ and that is how my first press conference took place... all-in-all, a fabulous memory.”
Another fleeting moment that one would remember from the Boost commercial was Tendulkar ducking to a bouncer that took an edge. It is a moment he remembers too decades later.
“I precisely remember it, I was batting in 80s when Angus Fraser came in and bowled a bouncer to me, which I ducked under and it hit the back side of the bat and the ball went to fine leg fielder... we got a single for that. And at that point of time I remembered, the tour of New Zealand which was the previous tour, in the second test match I got out on 88. I immediately remembered ‘oh last time I got out in the 80s and here again I’m in the 80s.. fortunately I moved on to the 90s and got that hundred, stayed not out and above all kept the series alive, which was really important for us.”— Sachin Tendulkar's YouTube channel
Indeed, there was a bit of a wait for Tendulkar to get to this first century. He was destined to score one soon after making his debut as a 16-year-old, but the record for the youngest to do so, came and went. When he toured England after his debut tour of Pakistan followed by New Zealand, perhaps he did not have that burden on him anymore. It was a chance to show just how good he was, still as a teenager and he played an innings that well and truly marked the arrival of the kid on the biggest of stages.
The first of many, of that there was no doubt... but little did we know it would be the first of a hundred hundreds.