Arjun Tendulkar emulates father Sachin's feat, hits century on first-class debut

The Goa all-rounder hits 120 runs against Rajasthan, helps team get to 493/8
Arjun Tendulkar celebrates his century against Rajasthan on Wednesday. (Photo | EPS)
Arjun Tendulkar celebrates his century against Rajasthan on Wednesday. (Photo | EPS)

CHENNAI: On December 11, 1988, batting maestro Sachin Tendulkar announced his arrival in the domestic circuit by slamming a century (100 not out) on his Ranji Trophy debut against Gujarat at the iconic Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai. Exactly 34 years and three days later, his son Arjun, emulated the feat, scoring 120 on his Ranji debut on Day 2 of Goa's Elite Group C match against Rajasthan in Porvorim on Wednesday.

23-year-old Arjun, who moved to Goa from Mumbai earlier this season in search of better opportunities, later claimed he didn't know the feat achieved by his father on debut and also preferred not to talk about it further. But he was confident that he always had that belief in his ability. "I didn't know (dad's achievement). I always had belief in my ability. I just knew that I just have to get set and once I am set I have to cash in on the start. I have to play the first hour out and then capitalise,"

Arjun Tendulkar with his childhood coach Prashant Shetty
Arjun Tendulkar with his childhood coach Prashant Shetty

Arjun told media persons after guiding Goa to a commanding total of 493/8 in 163.2 overs at stumps. Batting at No. 7, he along with double centurion Suyash Prabhudessai (212; 416 balls, 29x4), put together 221 runs for the sixth wicket. Earlier, he had scored tons in U-14 and U-16 selection games while playing in Mumbai and got out for 91 against Uttar Pradesh in an under-19 match.

Primarily a left-arm fast-medium pacer, Arjun came out late on the opening day. The moment he took the guard, he knew his job was to protect Suyash for the day. "Obviously, when I walked out to bat, I had to face most of the balls as Suyesh was batting on 80-odd runs and I needed to protect him."

The duo then saw off the Rajasthan pace attack comprising pacers Aniket Choudhary and Kamlesh Nagarkoti the next morning before sending the bowlers on a leather hunt. Even as the whole Goa team was cheering for Arjun when he reached the milestone, a member of the support staff was particularly pleased as he had seen the lows more than the highs of this young cricketer. Prashant Shetty, the coach of MIG Academy in Mumbai where Arjun started honing his skills at the age of nine, was a happy man.

"Feeling very good as I have seen his bad days. He has shared those with me and today all past memories came flooding back. But he continued the hard work and today he got rewarded," Shetty, a batting and fielding coach with Goa, told this daily. He has also been Arjun's personal coach for the past three years.

Sachin sought Shetty's opinion when a call was to be made to shift Arjun to Goa. The decision seems to be proven right. After contributing to the team's cause in the Syed Mushtaq Ali and Vijay Hazare Trophy as a bowler, Arjun has proved his mettle with the willow. Credit also goes to the childhood coach and appropriately Sachin congratulated him as well on Wednesday. "Yes, I received a congratulatory message from Sachin sir. I haven't spoken to him yet. Maybe at night, he will call."

Mansur Ali Khan, the chief coach of Goa, credits the hard yards taken by Arjun all these years for the success. "He trains like an international cricketer. He does specific skill sessions like international cricketers. Four days before the match, I saw him facing around 250 balls. I have told him that the job is half-done as come Thursday, he has to claim a five-for and he was good with it," said Khan, a former first-class cricketer from Karnataka.

And Arjun is ready to lead the pace attack on Day 3. "The next target is to win the game for Goa," said Arjun, who was bought by the Indian Premier League (IPL) franchise Mumbai Indians but has never played a match so far.

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