Sachin Tendulkar was dimissed for 98 in his last Test at Mohali, against Australia in 2010. (AFP)
New Delhi: Cricket fans who have flocked to the Punjab Cricket Association (PCA) Stadium in Chandigarh's Sector 63 - popularly known as Mohali - have witnessed some fine matches and individual performances - remember the 2011 World Cup semi-final? - since the stadium opened its gates in 1994, but there is one lingering curse the ground has become synonymous with. Sachin Tendulkar has not scored a Test century here since 1999, and has since then missed three figures five times, including three in his last four efforts.
Now, as India prepared to play Australia at Mohali from Thursday with a shot at wrapping up the series, there comes the inevitable question: will Tendulkar finally be able to break his Mohali curse?
Fans in Punjab have been deprived of watching Tendulkar score a century since 1999, when an unbeaten second-innings 126 helped India draw with New Zealand after Dion Nash rolled them over for 83.
Since then, Tendulkar has come close on five occasions. Against England in December 2001 he got to 88 before he got a thin edge to a good-length ball from Matthew Hoggard; in October 2003 against New Zealand he was dismissed for 55; against Pakistan in March 2005 Tendulkar came six runs short of a record-breaking 35th Test century before loosely driving to gully and stunning the Mohali faithful; in October 2008 he was on 88 when he fished outside off stump to become Peter Siddle's first Test wicket; and two year later he looked set to break his jinx but played across the line to the nondescript left-arm spin of Marcus North on 98.
It is not that Tendulkar does not have a good record at the PCA Stadium. In 10 Tests here, he has accumulated 709 runs at an average of 50.64 which is second to Rahul Dravid's 735. That means he is just 27 runs short of going past his former team-mate and becoming the leading run-getter at the venue. But this is one anomaly which Tendulkar would be out to correct.
Tendulkar has not scored a Test century since January 2011. Since then he has crossed the 50-mark in Tests on eight occasions. Five times he was dismissed after crossing 75, and twice in the nineties. Spectators in Mohali have been deprived of watching Tendulkar look to the skies and raise his bat for more than 13 years. Will 2013 prove lucky for Tendulkar and the fans?
What is it about Mohali that denies Sachin Tendulkar centuries?