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Sachin's date with destiny

Posted in England v India 2011

Sachin Tendulkar

Sachin Tendulkar celebrates his 50th Test century earlier this year. Will Lord's witness his 100th international ton?

Whichever way you look at it, the first game of the forthcoming npower Test series between England and India at Lord’s will be a momentous event.

The match will be cricket’s 2,000th Test and will also mark the 100th time the two teams have squared off in the longer format. Yet the achievements of one man could usurp all of that.

Sachin Tendulkar will step out onto the hallowed Lord’s turf for a date with destiny. The Little Master is poised on 99 international centuries and is yet to score a ton at the Home of Cricket.

In his 22-year international career, Tendulkar has done it all. He is revered in India, a symbol not just of his sport but the defining figure of an entire nation.

He holds the records for the most Test runs ever (14,692), the most one-day international runs ever (18,111), the most World Cup centuries (six), the most Test centuries (51) and the most ODI centuries (48).

India, who begin their tour of England with a three-day game against Somerset starting today, are currently the top-ranked Test nation and earlier this year they won the World Cup in Tendulkar’s hometown of Mumbai.

It was Tendulkar’s first World Cup victory at the sixth time of asking and he was typically inspirational. Only Tillakaratne Dilshan scored more runs than the 38-year-old, with both making the ICC team of the tournament.

Yet his absence from the Lord’s honours board perhaps provides proof that Tendulkar is human after all.

His first innings at the ground came way back in 1990 as a 17-year-old and he has struggled ever since. He averages less than 20 at Lord’s, a paltry return which pales in comparison with his career averages of 56.94 in Tests and 45.16 in ODIs.

It may only be a minor blemish on an otherwise faultless resume but it is clearly something Tendulkar himself would love to address, and he believed his last chance to see his name scrawled on the board would come in 2007.

“All batters dream of getting a hundred here and I’m no different,” he said.

Four years on and the pull of destiny seems too strong to ignore even accounting for Tendulkar’s dismal Lord’s record. The fact someone has invented a Facebook page titled “Sachin Tendulkar ‘Century of Centuries’ at Lords” is a testament to that.

He comes to England in fine form after smashing 146 in his last Test against South Africa back in January, his second ton of that tour. That was followed by the glorious World Cup campaign before he was afforded an extended break rather than experience the Caribbean jaunt.

If this is to be Tendulkar’s last Test hurrah in England then completing a century of centuries would be a fitting finale. He would be immortalised on the honours board and would reach a milestone which could stand forever. This Test match will see history in the making and he has the chance to add that.

Lord’s may not have seen the best of Sachin Tendulkar thus far, but there’s a sense the perfect script has been penned this time around.