SYDNEY: (Sports Desk) When Sachin Tendulkar started his Test cricket career 21 years ago he was a wide-eyed 16-year-old who had to face up to a world-class Pakistan bowling line-up that included Imran Khan, Wasim Akram, Abdul Qadir and a young Waqar Younis. He made two half-centuries for India in the four-match series and a star was born. ''It was challenging. I thoroughly enjoyed the tour and learnt a lot,'' he said. On Sunday, Tendulkar rose to another challenge, taming arguably the best new-ball bowlers in the world today, South Africa's Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel, who were aged six and five when Tendulkar first succeeded at cricket's highest level. His innings of 107 not out on the fourth day of the first Test at SuperSport Park was a masterly effort, which restored Indian pride after the tourists had been outclassed in the first innings. It also made him the first player to hit 50 centuries in Test matches. Tendulkar, 37, dedicated the innings to his late father, Ramesh. ''It was his birthday yesterday so I dedicate it to him. The first thing I thought of [on reaching the century] was him.'' The Indian batting maestro was happy but not ecstatic. ''It's nice. I can't say I'm not happy. I don't know how to express this. I'm happy and it is good that it has come. Hopefully it doesn't stop here.'' Tendulkar is the most successful batsman in the game and has also hit a record 46 centuries in one-day internationals. He said records were not what drove him and that he played for ''the love of the game''.Tendulkar was joined by captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni in a seventh-wicket stand of 172 but it was not enough to avoid a big defeat when play resumed yesterday, as South Africa completed victory by an innings and 25 runs, with Tendulkar unbeaten on 111. Asked whether it was especially satisfying to have scored a landmark century when his country needed him, Tendulkar said: ''Every time I go out the country needs me. ''If I go out and the score is 200 for two it's not as if it doesn't matter. Every innings I play I go out to score runs.'' His first century came at Old Trafford in 1990 in his ninth Test. His 50th ton - 11 clear of his nearest rival, Ricky Ponting - came in his 175th Test against South Africa in aptly named Centurion. The only man regarded as a better batsman, Australian Sir Donald Bradman, scored 29 centuries from 80 innings at a ton every 2.76 innings. Tendulkar's 50 centuries are from 286 innings (or one every 5.72 innings). In India, some believe Tendulkar has overtaken Bradman. ''Sachin, for me, is the greatest. There's no debate,'' said former Indian captain Sourav Ganguly. Former South African captain Kepler Wessels, who was at Centurion to observe Tendulkar's 50th century, was more cautious: ''Certainly in the modern era, he's the best batsman of our time. He doesn't have an equal.'' While Tendulkar delivers joy to millions of cricket fans, he has made life miserable for bowlers, including former Australian quick Stuart Clark. ''When you're bowling to him, it feels like his bat is a foot wide,'' Clark said. ''He is the hardest batsman to dismiss I've come up against. He has incredible timing and control and dictates the game to you.'' Australian cricket great Greg Chappell, who used to coach India, said Tendulkar's 50th century was a ''wonderful achievement'' and proof that ''if you keep your mind fresh you can play well into your 30s''. But as for the debate about who is the greatest batsman, Chappell said: ''Bradman. No doubt.'' Sachin Tendulkar's factfile 1973: Born April 24, Mumbai. 1988: Scores 100 not out in his first first-class match for Bombay against Gujarat in the Ranji Trophy becoming the youngest cricketer to score a century on his first-class debut, aged 15 years and 232 days. 1989: Makes Test debut for India against Pakistan in Karachi at the age of 16. December: Makes ODI debut against Pakistan but is dismissed by Waqar Younis without scoring a run. 1990: Scores maiden Test century against England at Old Trafford. 1992: At the age of 19 he becomes the first overseas-born player to represent Yorkshire. 1994: September 9 - Claims his first ODI century against Sri Lanka in Colombo after 79 one-day matches. 1996: Leading run scorer at World Cup played in India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka with a total of 523 runs. August: Takes on the India captaincy although suffers two relatively unsuccessful stints during a four-year period, winning only four Tests and 23 ODIs. 1997: Named Wisden Cricketer of the Year. 1998: Scores his first double century for Mumbai against Australia in the Brabourne Stadium. 1999: November - Involved in India's highest run-scoring ODI partnership with Rahul Dravid as the pair put on 339 against New Zealand. In the same match, he records the highest individual ODI score in Indian history with an unbeaten 186. 2000: Gives up the captaincy of India after the two-Test series with South Africa. 2001: Given a suspended ban of one game in light of alleged ball tampering during a match against South Africa at St George's Park, Port Elizabeth. The ban is later lifted by the International Cricket Council after an investigation. 2003: Named the Player of the Tournament at the 2003 Cricket World Cup and scores 673 runs, the highest by any player in the tournament. 2005: Overtakes Sunil Gavaskar's record of the highest number of Test centuries by claiming his 35th Test century against Sri Lanka in Delhi. 2006: Overtakes Kapil Dev claiming the record for the highest amount of Test appearances for India with 135. 2007: January 3 - Edges past Brian Lara's world record of runs scored in Tests away from home with 5,751 runs. June: Becomes the first player to score over 15,000 ODI runs during a match against South Africa in Belfast. 2008: March - Plays in his 417th ODI match against Australia and holds the record for the most ODI matches played. August - Becomes just the third player in Test match history, and the first from India, to play 150 matches when he is selected in the third Test against Sri Lanka at the P Saravanamuttu Stadium in Colombo. October 17 - Becomes the highest run scorer in Test cricket, passing Lara's previous mark of 11,953, when he reaches 16 in the first innings of the second Test against Australia. 2010: February 24 - Breaks the record for the highest individual score in a one-day international innings, hitting an unbeaten 200 in the ODI against South Africa to pass the previous mark of 194 not out set by Zimbabwe's Charles Coventry and 194 by Pakistan's Saeed Anwar. August 3 - Becomes most capped player in Test history, making his 169th Test appearance in the third Test against Sri Lanka in Colombo to overtake former Australia captain Steve Waugh. December 19 - Becomes first batsman to hit 50 Test centuries, achieving the feat against South Africa in Centurion. (Cricket365)