|Sachin Tendulkar at Mumbai's Wankhede Stadium (Pic: Imtiyaz Shaikh, Anadolu Agency)|
Sunday, November 17, 2013
Sachin Tendulkar: India's 'god of cricket' bids farewell
MUMBAI (AA) – At 3.33pm on Thursday, a 40-year-old gentleman walked down slowly from the dressing room of South Mumbai’s Wankhede stadium to the field, as 33,000- spectator crowd screamed waving Indian flags and his pictures.
The opponent team assembled in two neat rows to give Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar, the man known as "god of cricket," a guard of honor, a rare gesture of magnanimity and respect.
Even the two neutral umpires joined in paying tribute to the man who has dominated the landscape of world cricket for almost a quarter century.
Tendulkar, the highest run scorer in international cricket history, enthralled millions of cricket lovers in his last 200th Test match against West Indies with an impressive figure of 74 runs.
Rajni, Tendulkar’s mother, came to the stadium for the very first time to witness her son’s final test match.
Draped in white shawl, the wheelchair-bound Rajni counted prayer beads as her son played some of his favorite strokes down the ground.
Tendulkar’s wife Anjali and eldest daughter Sara, 16, sat in the pavilion cheering him while his youngest son Arjun, 14, played the role of a ball boy, collecting and returning the ball each time it crossed the boundary line.
Tendulkar stayed on the crease from Thursday afternoon to Friday (second day of the test) morning and faced West Indies bowling attack with the ferocity of a lion and composure of an experienced striker.
The stadium roared and chanted "Sachin" "Sachin" each time Tendulkar hit a boundary mesmerizing the spectators and reminding them of his old days when, as a youngster, he pounded the ball in each direction thrashing the pacers.
Tendulkar scored 74 runs on 118 balls with 12 boundaries to his credit.
At 10.38am Friday morning, the magical bat of the "master blaster" fell silent forever.
In the post-match presentation on Saturday afternoon, an emotionally-choked Tendulkar made a teary farewell speech watched by millions of viewers on live television.
"My life, between 22 yards for 24 years.....has come to an end," he said.
Tendulkar thanked his late father Ramesh who allowed him to play cricket at the age of 11.
"He gave me freedom at the age of 11, and told me, 'Chase your dreams, but make sure you do not find short cuts. The path might be difficult, but don’t give up'," he recalled.
He also thanked his wife, children, relatives, friends, teammates and even strangers who have supported him throughout his career.
Tendulkar started playing cricket at the tender age of 11 making his international debut at the age of 16 against arch-rival Pakistan in 1989 in Karachi.
He has been tipped as one of the most complete batsmen of all time; a living legend and iconic cricket figure.
Tendulkar is known for his trademark batting style which consisted of a perfect balance, economy of movement, precise strokes and his perfect quality of anticipation of the ball.
He played 200 tests (each Test match consists of 5 days) matches in which he scored 15921 runs in 329 innings at an average of 53.78.
In tests, Tendulkar scored 51 centuries, which remains a world record.
Tendulkar played 463 One Day International (ODI) matches in which he scored 18426 runs in 452 innings at an average of 44.83.
In ODI format, Tendulkar scored 49 centuries, which remains a world record.
Combining these two formats of cricket; Tendulkar is the only cricket player to have scored one hundred international centuries.
He also holds the record of first batsman to score a double century in ODI matches.
Together in these two formats, he is the only cricket player to have scored more than 34000 runs in international cricket.
Apart from a formidable batsman, Tendulkar is a successful part-time bowler who has taken 46 and 154 wickets in ODIs and Tests respectively.
Tendulkar is the only cricket player who has played six World Cups starting from 1992 to 2011.
He also holds record of the leading run scorer in World Cup history with 2278 runs to his name.
In 2011 World Cup, Tendulkar played an impressive inning in which he scored 85 runs out of 115 balls helping India defeat the arch-rival Pakistani team.
He was the second-highest run scorer in the 2011 World Cup.
In recognition of his achievements, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh decided to confer on Tendulkar Bharat Ratna, the country’s highest civilian award, making him the first sportsperson to get the country’s top award.
Tendulkar dedicated the Bharat Ratna for his mother and millions of Indian mothers who make all kinds of sacrifices to keep their children happy.
"I am humbled and honored that this award is bestowed upon me," he told a press conference Sunday.
"The award is for my contribution to the cricket for the last 24 years. The award belongs to the entire nation," he added.
"It doesn’t matter whether I am part of the team or not. In everything, I always think, India comes first."
Anadolu Agency, November 17, 2013