Tendulkar eyes 100th century in 2000th test

LONDON, (Reuters) – Sachin Tendulkar at the peak of  his considerable powers can mark the 2,000th test at Lord’s  starting tomorrow with an unprecedented 100th international  century at the headquarters of world cricket when India face  England.
The only other comparable landmark is not promising.
Australia’s Don Bradman, who endured the same pressures and  publicity which accompany Tendulkar, needed just four runs to  finish with a test average of 100 at the Oval in 1948.
Bradman was bowled without scoring in Australia’s only  innings, the most famous duck in test cricket, to finish with an  average of 99.94, still 40 runs better than anybody before or  since.
In addition, Tendulkar’s record at Lord’s is abject with a  highest score of only 37 in seven innings. It compares to an  overall test record of 14,692 runs at an average of 56.94 with  51 centuries in tests and 48 in one-day internationals.
Mumbai, Tendulkar’s home town, seemed the perfect setting  for Tendulkar to reach a hundred hundreds in the World Cup final  against Sri Lanka on April 2 this year. Instead he was out for  18, a failure soon overlooked after India’s dramatic victory.
The game is bigger than any individual and Tendulkar,  revered by team mates and opponents alike, remains the ultimate  team man.
At the age of 38, he is batting better than ever in a career  stretching back to 1989 scoring 1,562 runs at an average of 78  last year. He now combines the dazzling strokeplay of his youth  with the technical solidity of his middle years and with a tour  of Australia in the offing later in the year the 100th century  is only a matter of time if he does fall short at Lord’s.
“He’s phenomenal to still be going now and on the verge of  his 100th hundred in international games,” England off-spinner  Graeme Swann said on Tuesday.
“But hopefully he’ll have to wait six or seven months for  that, because we don’t want him to get one in England.”

A number of other statistics make Thursday’s test already  memorable before a ball has been bowled.
The first in a four-test series is the 2,000th test match in  history and the 100th between England and India. If England win  the series by a margin of at least two matches, they will  overtake India as the world’s top-ranked side.
On the surface the match is a straight battle between  England’s four-man attack and the talented and prolific Indian  batsmen.
The rain which afflicted the recent series against Sri Lanka  has not subsequently relented and the cool, damp conditions will  suit England’s leading strike bowler James Anderson.
Swann acknowledged that the pace bowlers are likely to  dominate this week.
“The trick is to put enough runs on the board as a team to  then allow our bowlers to bowl them out twice,” he said.
India’s batting has been weakened by the loss of opener  Virender Sehwag to a shoulder injury for the first two tests.  They still have Gautam Gambhir at the top of the order and  Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman in the middle followed by  Dhoni.
Wicketkeeper Dhoni has been an immensely impressive leader,  taking India to the first Twenty20 World Cup, this year’s 50  overs World Cup and to the top of the world rankings.
He symbolises the brash, new face of Indian cricket as  displayed to the world in the Mumbai triumph and the Indian  Premier League with a host of commercial endorsements which have  made him a wealthy young man.
“It’s not the rankings that are important to us. What is  important is to play good cricket and enjoy the sport,” Dhoni  said during India’s sole warmup match last week.
“The rankings will take care of themselves. When you  represent India and 1.2 billion have expectations from you, I  think every series is important.”

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