Mumbai: The millions of Sachin Tendulkar fans were left disappointed as the iconic batsman again came very close to his historic 100th international century only to miss it by six runs in the third cricket Test against the West Indies at the Wankhede Stadium on Friday.
There was a deathly silence at Tendulkar`s home ground as pacer Ravi Rampaul turned the "villain" by dismissing their favourite hero.
Interestingly, West Indies captain Darren Sammy`s statement last evening that he intended to "break a few Indian hearts" turned out to be prophetic as he took a sharp catch at the second slip off Rampaul delivery that bounced a trifle more with Tendulkar trying to play a square drive.
The disappointment was writ large on his face as he slowly trudged back to the pavilion with the crowd stunned into silence.
Starting on his overnight score of 67 not out, the legendary batsman was in a mood to get the coveted ton as quickly as possible.
The second new ball taken by rival skipper Sammy didn`t pose any problems as Tendulkar was sweetly timing the ball. In fact he reached the 90`s hitting a six off Fidel Edwards employing the upper cut over third man.
He also ran a few quick singles with his partner Virat Kohli. His 153-ball knock contained eight boundaries and a couple of sixes hit in an identical manner off Edwards.
Tendulkar`s last international came on March 12 during a World Cup group league match against South Africa at Nagpur. It`s been more than eight months that the entire nation has been waiting with bated breath for the elusive century.
Tendulkar scored most of his initial runs this morning with the flick shot as the West Indian pacers bowled at his pads.
He flicked Rampaul for a two and a four off his legs but then saw overnight partner V V S Laxman perish to the first ball the latter faced, caught at gully trying to drive.
But Virat Kohli, the new batsman in his fourth Test, was looking very confident while Tendulkar at the other end played a glorious straight-drive off Rampaul which streaked to the boundary line even before the bowler could stop in his run up.
Then came the over from Edwards that proved extremely fruitful as Tendulkar took 14 runs that included a classic front-footed off drive and the cut over third man for a six when the bowler pitched short and wide.
That took the right-hander to 93, a single off the bowler in Edwards' next over getting him to one shot short of the landmark century of tons.
Kohli hit a four off Rampaul and then Tendulkar got the strike in the same over which proved to be his last, as he reached for the ball to drive and ended up giving a catch to the slip cordon.