Century of centuries…it stands as vibrant testimony to the quality of Sachin Tendulkars batsmanship. On a sultry Saturday afternoon,the West Bengal government and Bengal cricket honoured themselves by honouring the great man.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee felicitated the master and congratulated him in a brief speech. On behalf of the Government of West Bengal we congratulate Sachin. He is a golden boy and thats why we gifted him a golden bat and ball. We salute your achievement. We are proud of you, said Mamata.
Tendulkar opened his thanksgiving in Bengali. Kolkata kemon aacho. (Aami) bhalo aachi (how are you Kolkata. I am well), he said. There was a touch of emotion in Tendulkars voice as he went on: Thank you all for all your support I have received over the years. It has been a pleasure playing here for the last 23 years. I will always cherish these memories. I hope you will always continue to support me and the Indian team like you have.
Distilling all his talents for Indias cause for the last 23 years,Tendulkar made himself an icon.
This feat of 100 international hundreds is something which is unlikely to be broken in the near future and Bengal became the first place outside his home town to honour him for such a momentous achievement.
By 3 pm the stadium was half full. The match between the Mumbai Indians and Kolkata Knight Riders was still an hour away. The fans came for their hero.
At 3.15 pm Mamata,accompanied by sports minister Madan Mitra,mayor Sovan Chatterjee and Rajya Sabha MP Srinjoy Bose entered the ground. CAB president Jagmohan Dalmiya,joint-secretaries Biswarup Dey and Sujan Mukherjee and treasurer Bablu Ganguly represented the state association. Shah Rukh Khan,West Bengals brand ambassador,was conspicuous by his absence. Painter Santan Dinda was working at the ground since 2 pm and came up with a masterclass. Dinda is one of Tendulkars favourite painters and he was naturally elated to receive the paintings. There were dhoti and kurta,mementos,a set of 100 guineas,the English version of Gitanjali and as promised by the sports minister,a bag full of 100 rasgullas. The ceremony was short and sweet and left a long-lasting test to savour.
For Tendulkar,such a show before the match,however,turned out to be a distraction. He fell for just two runs. No one cared.