Cricket has long been the essential team sport, which has over the years thrilled millions of sport lovers across continents not because it has given rise to great players – batsmen, bowlers, fielders, allrounders – but because it celebrates the spirit of competition and accentuates the intoxicating ecstasy of the winning moment. The players of the team are supposed to be cogs in the wheel of success or failure, each equally accountable for either consequence. However, there are rare moments when individual glory overshadows team performance, and March 16, 2012 was testimony to one such moment. That moment descended upon a nation of cricket worshippers when Sachin Tendulkar achieved that elusive milestone of a century of centuries in international cricket. Sachin acknowledged the standing ovation of the thousands of fans in the teeming Dhaka stadium with a trademark wave of the bat and a lifting of his eyes towards heaven.
Ironically, the same day also marked another humiliation of Team India, in a continuation of its dismal run over the past two months. This time the World Cup champions were made to bite the dust by minnows Bangladesh, and that too in a convincing manner. The news however, failed to dampen the euphoria generated by Tendulkar’s historic achievement. This achievement, although earned after a long and painful wait, and at a strike rate of less than 75, which resulted in India getting a lesser score than they should have, nevertheless attracted effusive words of praise eulogizing Tendulkar’s greatness from every quarter of the cricketing fraternity, and beyond. He has been unequivocally granted the status of the greatest sportsman of all time. It seemed as if Sachin’s achievement was even greater than a victory for team India. On a day which should have been a cause for disappointment and sadness, the country was celebrating. The individual has won, but cricket has lost. It seems that Sachin Tendulkar is no longer the servant of the game he adopted for his living, and for the success of his country. He is now above the game itself. He is the Master of The Game.