‘I dedicate this to my father’

Accolades pour in for the maestro

New Delhi: Congratulations poured in for Indian batting maestro Sachin Tendulkar, who Sunday became the first batsman to score 50 centuries in Test cricket. Tendulkar, 37, achieved the feat when he drove Dale Steyn through the covers for a single on the fourth day of the first Test against South Africa at the Super Sport Park here Sunday. It took him 196 balls with 12 fours and one six.

"Every run that comes off Sachin's blade is a record. He has shown the world how to perform under pressure," International Cricket Council (ICC) president Sharad Pawar said.

India were staring at the barrel, when Tendulkar and captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni joined forces to delay South Africa's cruise to victory. Former India skipper Kapil Dev said it was Tendulkar's best knock given the circumstances.

"When we used to play, we thought no one can break Sunil Gavaskar's record. No one could think about 50 Test centuries at that time. This is certainly a big knock under the circumstances, better than the 200s and 300s. But nothing like if we can save the Test match, it will be a cherry on the cake," Kapil said.

Board of Control for Cricket India's (BCCI) selection committee chairman K. Srikkant called Tendulkar the "greatest" batsman. "Only Sachin could have achieved this feat. He is in a league of his own. His hunger for runs has only grown," he said.

Former India spinner Bishen Singh Bedi called it an "unbelievable" feat."Sachin's feat is unbelievable. I was as thrilled as rest of my countrymen," Bedi said.

Former International Cricket Council (ICC) David Morgan called it a "wonderful" achievement. "Sachin Tendulkar's achievement in this match is really wonderful," he said.

Former India captain Sourav Ganguly said Sachin is only getting better with age. "I congratulate Sachin and his whole family. He is the greatest batsman of the game. He is only getting better with age," Ganguly said.

Former Test cricketer Sanjay Manjrekar said Tendulkar's record his here to stay while Yuvraj Singh called it the greatest achievement by a batsman ever.

India tennis star Mahesh Bhupathi called the master blaster's feat "inspirational."

President Pratibha Patil Sunday joined the nation in lauding the cricketer for becoming the first batsman to achieve the feat. Patil praised Tendulkar for his "spectacular achievement", adding all Indians were proud of his remarkable accomplishment.