Sachin Tendulkar falls short of 100th century at the SCG's 100th Test
The scene was set for Sachin Tendulkar. He strode to the crease at his most prolific ground, the Sydney Cricket Ground (S.C.G), during its 100th test.
This week, it became the third ground in the world to score a "century," after London’s Lord’s and the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
And Mumbai's "Little Master" was attempting to become the first player to score 100 international centuries. He’d scored an unparalleled 51 Test and 48 limited-over centuries for India.
For nine months now, 1.2 billion Indians have waited with bated breath for Tendulkar to create cricketing history.
With an overnight score of eight, Indian Australians and the "Swarmy Army" -- cricket fans who had traveled from the subcontinent -- surrounded the hallowed ground in justified optimism.
For twenty years, Tendulkar had been prolific at the ground. Preceding this test, he had averaged 221.33 for every time he was dismissed. It included hefty returns of 148 not out (1992), 241 not out (2004) and 154 not out (2008).
The S.C.G is renowned for its festive atmosphere. The ground -- a mixture of heritage and modernity -- is decked out in pink every year to honor Jane McGrath, the late wife of former Australian fast bowler Glenn, and raise money for breast cancer.
Glenn McGrath told The Sydney Morning Herald before the match: "Sachin's a class player and to be sitting on 99 (international) centuries is incredible."
"Well, the scene is set, there's no doubt about that," he said. "But I'm tipping our boys will hold him back for another few Tests."
Tendulkar out for 80
72 runs onwards from his overnight score, the Indian Australian crowd were in high spirits.
Australian captain Michael Clarke was bowling, fresh from scoring 329 not out -- the highest by any Australian captain locally in the history of the game.
Tendulkar pushed forward to the left-arm spinner and edged the ball to first slip, where Michael Hussey took the catch to the groans and cheers of the crowd.
Is Tendulkar destined to retire on 99 centuries?
The peerless Australian batman in the 1930s and 1940s, Sir Donald Bradman, retired with a Test average of 99.94 after being dismissed for a duck in his last innings.
Is it cricketing folklore or myth that the greats are denied that eternal century?
Tendulkar turns 39 this April and is in the twighlight of his international career. He has the remainder of the tour in Australia and matches in India this year, at least, to complete the milestone.
Will the century of centuries ever be realized?