Sachin Tendulkar struggled to hold back the tears as he soaked up the unconditional veneration of an Indian crowd for the last time when the sun set on the master batsman’s glittering 24-year career yesterday.
After his side completed the formalities of an easy victory over West Indies, Tendulkar collected a stump as a memento and slowly made his way through a mobile guard of honor formed by his teammates, head bowed and struggling to hide his emotions.
As TV coverage broadcast images of a huge banner in the stands proclaiming “Legends never retire,” the 40-year-old Tendulkar shook hands with opposing players and staff before climbing the stairs leading to the dressing room.
Tendulkar later returned with his wife, daughter and son to make a moving and humble farewell speech at the presentation ceremony before completing a lap of honor on the shoulders of his teammates.
“All my friends settle down, let me talk. I will get more and more emotional,” he said, his voice almost drowned by chants of “Sachin, Sachin” reverberating around his hometown Wankhede Stadium.
“It’s getting little difficult to talk but I’ll manage.”
A solemn Tendulkar spoke for more than 20 minutes as the 32,000-strong crowd listened intently with hands folded as if in prayer and eyes moist with tears.
A day after the anniversary of his international debut against Pakistan in Karachi in 1989 as a mop-haired 16-year-old, Tendulkar finished his career as the sport’s most prolific international run-scorer.
He leaves the game after playing more Test matches (200), scoring the most Test (15,921) and one-day international (18,426) runs, and compiling more Test (51) and one-day (49) hundreds than any other player in cricket history.
Such was India’s dominance that Tendulkar was only required to bat once in his final Test, scoring a stylish 74, but he did get to bowl a couple of overs yesterday to at least play an active role in his last day of duty.
Responding to chants of “We want Sachin, We want Sachin” from the packed stadium, India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni tossed the ball to Tendulkar, who delighted his home fans with a brief bowling cameo in his 200th Test match.
A crowd-pleasing wicket was not forthcoming, but he did show off a full repertoire of deliveries, offering leg-spin, off-spin and an immaculate googly which tail-ender Shane Shillingford somehow fended away.
The regular bowlers returned to finish off a match that will be largely forgotten as a contest, but remembered as a fitting farewell for a man who may be small in stature, but cast a giant shadow of greatness over cricket in India and beyond.
In a fitting and final tribute, Tendulkar returned to the 22-yard strip of land that has defined his life and career to perform a “Dandavata,” an Indian form of respect requiring one to bow the forehead and stoop to touch the ground.
Due to an ongoing dispute between media organizations and the Board of Control for Cricket in India, Reuters is unable to provide full coverage of the India v West Indies Test match.
N ZEALAND V SRI LANKA
AFP, DAMBULLA, Sri Lanka
Tillakaratne Dilshan hit 53 as Sri Lanka scored 211-8 from 33 overs in the rain-interrupted third and final one-day international against New Zealand in Dambulla yesterday.
The match, delayed by 90 minutes due to bad weather, had been earlier truncated to 43 overs-a-side before another wet spell reduced it further to 33 overs each.