New Delhi: Former players were tonight effusive in their praise for Sachin Tendulkar who on Sunday became the first man in the history of Test cricket to post 50 centuries.
The champion batsman scaled the milestone when he drove Dale Steyn for a single on the fourth day of the first Test against South Africa at the SuperSport Park in Centurion. “It was an absolutely outstanding innings, an outstanding milestone in history of cricket,” said former India skipper Dilip Vengsarkar.
“He has been performing outstandingly in all three formats of the game and it requires tremendous physical and mental fitness and focus and passion for the game,” Vengsarkar, with whom Tendulkar had played quite a bit of cricket in his initial years, said.
Vengsarkar said that Tendulkar’s 50 Test ton was a lesson for youngsters.
“What he did on Sunday on foreign soil was a lesson for those in the dressing room, especially the youngsters.”
“It has never happened in the history of cricket and I don’t think anybody would ever reach such a milestone considering the number of T20 and one-day matches they play these days,” Vengsarkar added.
“It’s been 21 years but he has retained the same enthusiasm, which I saw in 1988. He is so focussed, so passionate and disciplined,” Vengsarkar added.
“Everytime he occopies the crease, there is a record,” he said.
Former India opener and chairman of the selection committee, Kris Srikkanth, described Tendulkar as the “god of world cricket” and termed his achievement as “super human effort”.
“He is god of world cricket and it’s a super human effort. He has dedicated 21 years of in international cricket and that’s amazing,” Srikkanth said moments after the 37-year-old Mumbaikar reached the coveted landmark.
“When you score in difficult conditions, that has to be taken into account,” Srikkanth added.
India had their backs to the wall after South Africa piled up a massive 620 for declared in reply to the visitors’ paltry first-innings total.
Former Pakistan leg-spinner Abdul Qadir who played against Tendulkar when the legend went on his first tour to Pakistan as a 16-year-old recollected old memories of watching Tendulkar bat in Karachi.
“At that time Waqar Younis was at his quickest. But the kind of technique and temperament he showed during his first innings in international cricket was worth remembering. Suddenly you could feel that this was a special talent out of the ordinary. It’s really a great achievement and I wish him loads of happiness in the years to come,” Qadir said.
Veteran India spinner Bapu Nadkarni feels that there isn’t anyone who could easily emulate or surpass the record of 50 centuries in Test cricket.
Madan Lal, who was India’s coach when Sachin Tendulkar was the captain said that credit should also be given to the other top-order batsmen who has let Tendulkar play his natural game.
“Earlier, the Indian batting entirely revolved around Tendulkar. But with the emergence of Dravid, Laxman, Sehwag and Gambhir, there is less pressure on Tendulkar. And when you are under less pressure, you start enjoying and playing more freely. That is the reason why Tendulkar has enjoyed such huge success in recent years,” Madan Lal said.
Former India batsman, Gundappa Viswanath, said Tendulkar’s ton on Sunday showed his keenness and calibre and added that he was also impressed by his running between the wickets.
“The innings showed his keenness and calibre, the way he absolved himself towards setting up such a wonderful innings. I am not saying this because this was his 50 Test ton but because he stood his ground in a difficult situation and helped India fight,” Viswanath told reporters.
“I was very impressed by the way he ran between the wickets,” Viswanath added.
“He is also on the threshhold of getting to his 50 ton on one-dayers. All these go on to prove that he is highest mountain where people cannot reach.”
Talking about the innings, Viswanath said, “It’s a monumental effort and a great achievement. It’s one of the best and worthy effort considering the situation India were in. We all knew that he was the only batsman going to make it.”
“It’s an unbelievable performance and no cricketer can come close to this mark leave alone erasing it.”
“When Sunil Gavaskar crossed the 10,000-run mark in Tests we all knew that someone would cross that mark and Sachin was the man,” Viswanath said.
Former India wicketkeeper Syed Kirmani said Tendulkar has reached the pinnacle of his career.
“Milestones will remain in his name by itself. He has reached the pinnacle of his cricketing career and I am sure his hunger for runs is insatiated,” Kirmani said.
“He has been achieving milestones one after another and they are beyond any cricketer’s calibre to match Sachin’s feat,” Kirmani added.
“There is no words to praise the icon’s performance at a time when India is preparing for the World Cup and presently at the receiving end of the first Test against South Africa,” he said.
Former India batsman Chandu Borde described the batman’s effort as “finest” in history of cricket.
“This was expected. This is one of the finest achievements in cricket history. It is a fantastic performance by Sachin and, as I know him, I am sure he will continue to go on like this,” Borde said.
“Records do not matter to him. He will keep playing and records will follow him,” he said.