Tendulkar has coped with the pressures and expectations in an incredible manner

Maestro Sachin Tendulkar will complete 20 years in international cricket on Sunday. The 36-year-old batting legend will be the first Indian cricketer to achieve the feat.

Tendulkar made his debut as an immensely talented 16-year-old against Pakistan in Karachi on November 15, 1989.

"You only get to see one Tendulkar in a life-time. In the next 100 years, you will not witness another Tendulkar. He is once-in-century-player," said international cricket's most successful bowler Muttiah Muralitharan here on Saturday while interacting with the media.

India meets Sri Lanka in the first Test of the three-match series at Motera from Monday.

And Muralitharan will be up against a cricketer who is only 39 runs short of a mind-boggling 30,000 runs in international cricket.

Tendulkar has most runs in Tests (12773 runs in 159 matches at 54.58) and ODIs (17178 runs in 436 matches at 44.50). His 42 Test hundreds and 45 ODI centuries are more than anybody else in the game.

"He can make runs even when he is 44 years old because his technique is so good. It is this combination of technique and temperament that has made Tendulkar such a great cricketer," said Muralitharan, the leading wicket-taker in Tests and ODIs, with 783 and 512 scalps.

Krishnamachari Srikkanth, Tendulkar's first captain, said the teenager's confidence coming into the team for the series in Pakistan, in 1989, was astonishing. "All I told him was that he would play all

four Tests. I just wanted him to feel secure."

Srikkanth, the chairman of the National cricket selection panel, marvels at Tendulkar's accomplishments. He recalls some of the batsman's epic innings. "I can never forget his 114 at Perth in 1992 in Australia. I played that Test. The pitch sported large cracks andthere was both bounce and lateral movement. Tendulkar played cracking shots off either foot. He has enormous character."

The former India captain then talks about Tendulkar's three immortal efforts at Chepauk. "His 155 not out against Australia in 1998; a match-winning innings was very special. He took guard outside the

leg-stump, opened up his stance and pulled Shane Warne out of the rough. The innings showed how well he could adapt. His 136 against Pakistan in 1999 was an epic innings that saw him play through shooting back pain. Sadly, India lost in a thrilling finish. Last year, his unbeaten 103 during a match-winning fourth innings chase against England on a tricky wicket was vintage Tendulkar."

Sri Lankan batting giant Mahela Jayawardene highlighted Tendulkar's hunger and commitment. He also dwelt on Tendulkar's ability to play in all conditions. “There is nothing that he lacks. He is technically solid, is hard to break and can concentrate for long periods,” saidthe Sri Lankan.

Indeed, Tendulkar's away Test record of 7165 runs in 90 matches at 54.28 is an exemplary one. In Australia, where a batsman often has to cope with extra bounce, Tendulkar's solid back-foot play has fetched him 1522 runs in 16 Tests at 58.53.

In England, where a batsman has to rely on front-footed play and sure judgment in the corridor to counter the lateral movement, Tendulkar has 1302 runs in 13 Tests at 62.00.Sri Lankan captain Kumar Sangakkara pointed out that Tendulkar continued to enjoy the game. "He has the hunger and the desire.

Tendulkar has come back from injuries. Tendulkar and Ricky Ponting are technically sound while Brian Lara can very exciting to watch."

Former India paceman Javagal Srinath, who shared a wonderful chemistry with Tendulkar said, “He has been incredible. I am proud that I played cricket with him. You must realise that during all these years, he has had virtually no private life.”

Tendulkar's career has been a saga sacrifice.

Sachin Tendulkar: Marathon man

More In: Cricket | Sport