An emotional Sachin Tendulkar dedicated yesterday's match-winning hundred in the first Test against England to the people of India, especially those involved in and affected by last month's terrorist attack on Mumbai. Tendulkar struck a brilliant, unbeaten 103 as India reached their target of 387 and completed the fourth-highest run chase in the history of Test cricket.
But rather than dwell on the joy of scoring the winning runs and taking his side to a remarkable victory, Tendulkar initially chose the moment to talk about all the 170-plus people that lost their lives between 26 and 28 November. Tendulkar did not lose any close friends during the attacks but the parents of children at his daughter's school in Mumbai were slain when militants went on the rampage.
"I would like to dedicate this hundred to all the people who have gone through such terrible times," he said. "What happened in Mumbai was extremely unfortunate. This hundred will give a certain amount of happiness to people but what happened in Mumbai, it's very hard to recover from that. Cricket is a lesser thing compared to what happened. I would like to take this opportunity to salute everyone who stood up to the terrorists. From my point of view it was an attack upon India, not on Mumbai, and it should hurt every Indian, not just those from Mumbai. We are all Indians.
"I don't think India winning or me scoring a hundred will make those that have lost loved ones feel better. I think it was a terrible loss for all of them and our hearts are with them. All I can say is that whatever we can do to make them feel better we will do."
No player in the history of cricket has scored more international runs or hundreds than Tendulkar, but this has not prevented some from questioning his temperament. Even in India, where he is viewed as a demigod, there have been people who have questioned his ability to win a Test by scoring pressure runs in the fourth innings of a Test.
"I would rate this hundred as one of the best I have scored, for sure," he said. "It was also one of my most emotional. I feel very happy and proud that I have been able to achieve something very special. The fact that it took us to victory made it even more special.
"I rate it highly because of the circumstances, the surface we were playing on, the hot weather and the target we were set. It wasn't a small target and we were able to overcome all the obstacles. This is something I have wanted to do, score a hundred and win a match for India in the fourth innings. I have scored hundreds in the second innings but to score one, win a match and play the winning shot was very, very special.
"I'd like to thank England for coming back to play Test cricket, it was a terrific gesture by them. This was a wonderful Test match and people are again enjoying cricket as it is meant to be. Had they not returned, people would not been able to witness such a terrific match."
Indian centurion: Tendulkar in numbers
Innings 254 (not outs 27)
Runs 12,413 (Highest score 248*)
Most centuries in Test Cricket:
*41......... Sachin Tendulkar (India)
*36......... Ricky Ponting (Aus)
*34......... Sunil Gavaskar (India)
*34......... Brian Lara (WI)
*32......... Steve Waugh (Aus)