Sachin Tendulkar announced his retirement from one-day cricket yesterday, but wants to keep playing Tests for a rebuilding India team.
“I have decided to retire from the one-day format of the game,” Tendulkar said in his announcement. “I feel blessed to have fulfilled the dream of being part of a World Cup-winning Indian team.”
“The preparatory process to defend the World Cup in 2015 should begin early and in right earnest. I would like to wish the team all the very best for the future. I am eternally grateful to all my well-wishers for their unconditional support and love over the years,” he said.
Tendulkar holds the world records for one-day international caps (463), runs (18,426) and centuries (49).
However, the 39-year-old has limited his one-day appearances in the last three years to prolong his Test career, and since India’s World Cup triumph on home soil 20 months ago he’s played in only 10 matches, all in February and March this year.
In his second-to-last one-dayer, against Bangladesh in the Asia Cup, he made 114 to become the first player to achieve 100 international centuries. He has not scored another century in either one-dayers or Tests, drawing growing calls as India have also struggled, for him to retire from international cricket altogether.
He made his announcement as national selectors were in the process of announcing the team for the limited-overs home series against Pakistan starting tomorrow, the first series between the neighbors in five years.
Former chief selector Krishnamachari Srikkanth said he was shocked at the timing of Tendulkar’s retirement.
“Sachin’s announcement has come as a big surprise,” Srikkanth told the CNN-IBN channel. “I thought he would play in the one-day series against Pakistan.”
Tendulkar, who is also the world record-holder in Tests for runs (15,643) and centuries (51), had been under pressure to step down in recent months owing to the retirements of Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman, as well as his own indifferent form since the World Cup.
He made his ODI debut for India at 16 in 1989, and was the first batsman to score a double century in one-dayers when he smashed 200 not out against South Africa at Gwalior in 2010, but was selective in playing one-day games after that.
The Mumbai batsman had the knack of being among the runs in big international tournaments like the World Cup, and his retirement brings an end to a golden generation of Indian cricketers in the one-day format that included former captain Sourav Ganguly, Dravid and Anil Kumble.
Tendulkar topped the run-scoring in two World Cups: 673 to ensure India made the final in 2003, and 523 when India made the semi-finals in 1996.
Last year he was the second top run-getter (482) behind Sri Lanka’s Tillakaratne Dilshan (500), but winning the tournament more than made up for that.
His absence was felt in the 1999 World Cup when India failed to advance from the Super Eights, losing a crucial game to Zimbabwe when Tendulkar had to go home due to his father’s death. Tendulkar returned to England and got a century against Kenya, but India could not reach the knockout stage.
“Winning the World Cup [in 2011] is the proudest moment of my life ... I couldn’t control my tears of joy,” Tendulkar said after the final at his home ground, the Wankhede Stadium, on April 2 last year.
India’s next Test series will be against Australia at home in February and March, when four Tests are scheduled.