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.
Sri Lanka, who were 91-0 at one stage following Dilshan’s opening partnership with Mahela Jayawardene, slipped to 110-4 and then 146-6 against the steady Black Caps attack.
Nathan McCullum removed Jayawardene (46) and Kumar Sangakkara in three balls, before left-arm seamer Mitchell McClenaghan dismissed Dilshan and skipper Angelo Mathews off successive balls.
The ninth-wicket pair of Sachithra Senanayake and Rangana Herath boosted the total by smashing 18 runs in the final over, bowled by seamer Andrew Ellis.
Sri Lanka need a win to draw the series 1-1 after New Zealand won the second game in Hambantota on Tuesday. The first match was rained off.
New Zealand will round off their short two-week tour with two Twenty20 internationals in Pallekele on Tuesday and Wednesday.
S AFRICA V PAKISTAN
Three wickets in as many balls sent Pakistan tumbling from cruise control to defeat by six runs in the second Twenty20 international against series winners South Africa in Dubai on Friday.
Set 151 for victory, Pakistan were 112 for four needing 39 from 32 balls for the win, before Imran Tahir bowled Shoaib Malik (15) and Abdul Razzaq (0) in successive balls.
Wayne Parnell then had innings top-scorer Sohaib Maqsood (37) caught by wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock at the start of the next over to rock the sub-continent side.
They never quite recovered and as the run-rate slowed, South Africa were able to turn the screw. The key wicket of Shahid Afridi (14) with eight balls remaining sealed Pakistan’s fate and they ended their 20 overs on 144 for nine.
Parnell finished with three for 25 in his four overs and was ably supported by Dale Steyn (two for 20) and Tahir (two for 21).
South Africa, who claimed the two-match series 2-0, had earlier won the toss and elected to bat with their top three doing the damage.
Captain Faf du Plessis top-scored with a fine 58 not out from 48 balls that included three sixes, while Hashim Amla rediscovered his form with 48 from 41 balls.
Exciting young opener De Kock hit six fours in his 30 from 19 balls as the Proteas posted 150 for five in their 20 overs.
Saeed Ajmal was again the pick of the Pakistan bowlers with three for 25 in his four overs, while Sohail Tanvir collected two for 21 in his four.
The sides now travel to South Africa for a two-game T20 and three-match one-day international series starting on Wednesday.