Tendulkar has passed 150 in an ODI game 5 times now - 186 v New Zealand, 152 v Namibia, 163 v New Zealand, 175 v Australia and now 200 v South Africa. He has made 93 international hundreds, and going by the landscape of International Cricket today, we are living in special times - what with Mutthiah Muralitharan and Sachin Tendulkar both on the anvil of unbelievable international milestones - 800 Test wickets and 50 Test hundreds respectively.
Tendulkar's career has seen a revival tremendous revival since the 2007 World Cup. He has made 2779 Test runs in 31 Tests with 12 centuries, at 59.12, while in ODIs he has made 2751 runs in 57 games at 51.2. He has reached at least 50 in 23 out of 54 Test innings, while in ODIs the figure is 21 times in 54 innings. He has made two centuries and a ninety in grand finals, and now, has made an ODI double hundred. Nobody has made more Test hundreds than Tendulkar since the 2007 World Cup (even though many have played more games), and only Mahela Jayawardene has made more Test runs. Only MS Dhoni and Yuvraj Singh have made more ODI runs than Tendulkar in this period (even though he has played only 58 games to 92 and 84 by Dhoni and Yuvraj respectively) and only Gautam Gambhir and Ricky Ponting (6 each) have made more ODI centuries. For a player whose career went into seemingly terminal decline between the 2003 and 2007 World Cups, this has been an astonishing revival. Tendulkar has remained largely injury free in this period and has flourished thanks in no small part to a very healthy team environment - first under Rahul Dravid, then Anil Kumble and now M S Dhoni.
This was an innings, in style and in essence that Tendulkar could not have played in an earlier phase of his career. There was a Laraesque flourish to some of his strokeplay, as well as a Richardsesque brutality. The bowler's line and length was what he - Sachin Tendulkar, decided it was. He pierced the off-side ring at will, hit the straight boundary with great ease, and when it came to making a choice between cover and mid-wicket, it seemed to depend only on his mood.
The ODI 200 could have been reached in many ways. It could have been reached by a brutally powerful slogger having the day of his life, or it could have been achieved in desperation - by say Herschelle Gibbs had he made 25 more runs (the way he was playing it would have taken him merely 5 or 6 strokes). Instead it was somewhat fitting that it was achieved with a degree of certainty, by a man who has gotten close more often and more frequently than any other player in history. The milestone has well and truly been achieved - in the sense, that not only has Tendulkar done it, he has done it in a way which makes it possible to imagine that it could happen again. For it was an innings in which all the parts came together - it was perfectly paced and it made full use of the rules - 33 runs in the batting powerplay. This was no freak occurence. This was just around the corner, especially if you consider the man's form in the last 12 months. He retired hurt on 163 at the end of the 45th over at Christchurch, and was out for 175 off the first ball of the 48th over at Hyderabad.
It was a question of when and not if. That has now been answered. But just consider how terribly toothless the fast bowlers were. This attack included the world's best fast bowler today - Dale Steyn, who has a Test record which is superior to any bowler in Test Match history with around 200 Test wickets or more (Barnes excepted). We don't even talk about bowlers being taken to pieces nowadays. That is a given.
There will come a time when less worthy batsmen reach these milestones. What does that say about these batting-centric rules?