If Sachin Tendulkar is finding his landmark century-related pangs too much to cope with, his 'been there' man -- Sunil Gavaskar -- could be just a phone call away. The 62-year-old batting legend knows about the anxiousness while approaching an important milestone just like Tendulkar is experiencing before his 100th international century. Getting it on home turf -- at the Wankhede Stadium -- would be a fairy tale and the history of the game has proved that fairy tales do come true. Testimony of this was on April 2 this year when Tendulkar realised his dream of being part of a World Cup-winning team.
Last laugh? Sachin Tendulkar during India's practice session at the
Wankhede Stadium yesterday. Pic/AFP
Like Tendulkar's milestone hundred, Gavaskar's 29th which put him on par with Sir Don Bradman's Test century tally, was eagerly awaited too. Only yesterday, Ian Chappell called for a more attacking approach from Tendulkar. Gavaskar too took the aggressive route to get to Bradman's mark against the West Indies at Delhi in 1983.
Sunil Gavaskar batting during the 1983-84 series against West Indies.
After Gavaskar smacked the likes of Malcolm Marshall, Michael Holding, Winston Davis and Wayne Daniel to all corners of the Kotla to reach his coveted 29th ton, Doordarshan put out a special package on the batting great in which commentator Narottam Puri interviewed Mr and Mrs Gavaskar.
When Puri asked Marshneil Gavaskar for her pre-hundred anecdote, she obliged: "We were going out somewhere and there were some girls standing in the lobby. They wanted autographs from Sunil. As usual, and this is the same story for the last couple of months... they came up to him and said, 'tomorrow you must score your 29th century.'
"I have been hearing that for so long -- for the last couple of days or months or whatever -- that it didn't make any difference, but then they stood around, and Sunil, as usual, said, 'inshallah' and 'I will try and it is up the Gods' � the usual lines. After that, they said, 'you must score your 29th century tomorrow and you must make it the fastest century you ever scored.' And when he did that, I said, my God those girls did influence him a lot."
Gavaskar, who took only 94 balls for his century, wrote in Runs 'n Ruins (published by Rupa & Co): "Much as I appreciated their sentiments, the cry 'we want your 29th' was becoming a little strident to the ears. It was therefore a great relief to get that century and see the delight on the face of my countrymen. They had waited for it patiently, prayed for it and probably had tensions in their lives while I was struggling for it."
After getting on par with Bradman's tally, Gavaskar hoped to surpass it at home in the fourth Test. But that was not to be. After his first innings' 12, he was dismissed in the very first over of the second innings by Marshall. His 30th century came in the sixth Test at Chennai. Wrote Gavaskar: "It was difficult to say who was more disappointed, the crowd or I, because I felt in my bones after my dismissal for 90 in Ahmedabad that God Almighty wanted me to score the 30th century in front of my home crowd.
"Surprisingly, there was not even a boo from the Garware Pavilion with which you are almost bid goodbye off the field if you score less than 50 in the innings. Even the booers there must have been stunned, because almost the whole of Bombay was convinced like me that this was going to be it." Interestingly, that was the first Test match Tendulkar watched at the Wankhede. Now, he's being watched.