Tendulkar’s 24 years of magic

MUMBAI. Indian cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar took to the pitch Thursday for his 200th and final test, bidding farewell to his adoring public and basking in tributes from fellow players, politicians and fans.
Tendulkar will say retire after his 200th and final Test.
Tendulkar will say retire after his 200th and final Test.

Tendulkar in numbers
Born: 24 April, 1973, Mumbai
International debut:
Nov 1989 vs Pakistan
Test matches: 200
He has scored 15,921 runs, hitting 51 tons and 68 half-centuries.

One-day internationals: 463
He has scored 18,426 runs at an average of 44.83 and a strike rate of 86.23. He has scored 49 centuries (highest score 200) and 96 fifties

MUMBAI. Indian cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar took to the pitch Thursday for his 200th and final test, bidding farewell to his adoring public and basking in tributes from fellow players, politicians and fans.

The 40-year-old is ending an international career spanning nearly a quarter of a century during which he became the all-time leading test and one-day batsman and the only man to score 100 international centuries.

The end of the ‘Little Master’, who has almost god-like status in his cricket-mad country, has been met with nationwide nostalgia for his sporting feats since his international debut in 1989.

Tendulkar, who led the team out onto the field in his home city of Mumbai, said the last 20 years had been “marked by some of the most challenging, exhilarating, poignant and memorable moments of my life”.

“The game has seen so much change over the last two decades – from advances in technology, new formats, yet the basic spirit and passion surrounding the game remains the same,” he wrote in a front-page Hindustan Times piece.

Excitement ahead of the game has been building since he announced his intention to retire last month, with highlights of his innings and interviews looping on news channels.

“He’s not just a cricketer. For me he’s an ideal son, an ideal friend. The biggest thing about him is his humility,” said fan Himanshu Kapadia, queuing for entry to the stadium with his two sons.

“It’s a piece of history for me,” he said of the farewell match.

Many fans have expressed disappointment that only 5 000 tickets went on sale for the general public despite the 32 000 seats in the Wankhede stadium, many of which are reserved for VIPs such as sponsors and cricket club members.

Such was the demand for tickets for the game against the West Indies that the main website selling them crashed within minutes of sales opening on Monday.

Footage broadcast on Indian television showed Tendulkar leading the team out to the pitch and the toss taking place with a specially minted coin bearing his image on one side.

“We will be very fortunate if we get another Sachin,” Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni said at the toss. “So it is important that we learn from the great man.”

Since 16-year-old Tendulkar made his debut in Karachi in 1989, he has racked up an astonishing 15 847 runs in 199 tests, helping India win the 2011 World Cup and reach the top of the world rankings.

On the eve of his final match, which extends his record for test appearances to 200, he thanked his fans on Twitter “from the bottom of my heart for 24 years of support”.

Tendulkar’s wheelchair-bound mother Rajni is due to watch her son bat for the first time after a special ramp was built for her at the south Mumbai stadium, despite her previous fears that her presence at matches could bring him bad luck.

Along with Tendulkar murals, banners and billboards that have sprung up in the countdown, Mumbai’s tattoo parlours have reportedly seen a spike in requests for designs of the sporting icon.

“Since it was for Sachin Sir, I hardly felt any pain,” Rikin Dedhia told The Times of India after a smiling Tendulkar was etched on his upper arm.

Cricketing greats Brian Lara and Shane Warne have also flown in for the farewell game at Wankhede, where a huge security force has been deployed for the next five days.

“Sachin Tendulkar was the best batsman of my generation and it will be a privilege to be in Mumbai,” wrote Australia’s Warne, who is commentating on the match.

British Prime Minister David Cameron, on a visit to New Delhi, called him “absolutely an all-time great” and said he was an example and inspiration to cricket-lovers.

Father-of-two Tendulkar has tended to avoid the limelight off the pitch and has steered clear of controversies, earning a reputation for modesty and self-control.

Despite his glowing reputation, his cricketing powers have waned in recent years and some suggested that he should have retired earlier, with the latest of his 51 test centuries back in January 2011 against South Africa.

PROFILE

Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar (born 24 April 1973) is widely acknowledged as the greatest batsman of his generation.

Born in Mumbai, he took up cricket at age of eleven, made his test debut against Pakistan at just sixteen years old, and went on to represent Mumbai domestically and India internationally for more than twenty years.

He retired from the Indian Premier League in May 2013 and has announced that he will retire from the sport in November 2013 after playing his two-hundredth test match, against the West Indies in Mumbai’s Wankhede Stadium.

He is the first player to score one hundred international centuries, the first player to score a double century in an one-day international (ODI), and thus far the only to complete 34 000 runs in international cricket.

In 2002, Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack ranked him the second greatest test batsman of all time, behind Don Bradman, and the second greatest ODI batsman of all time, behind Viv Richards.

Tendulkar was a part of the 2011 Cricket World Cup-winning Indian team in the later part of his career, his first such win in six World Cup appearances for India.

He was also the recipient of “Player of the Tournament” award of the 2003 Cricket World Cup held in South Africa.

In October 2013, he became the only Indian cricketer to be named in an all-time test World XI to mark the 150th anniversary of Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack.

Tendulkar has been honoured with the Padma Vibhushan award, India’s second highest civilian award, and the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award, India’s highest sporting honour.

Tendulkar won the 2010 Sir Garfield Sobers Trophy for cricketer of the year at the ICC awards. In 2012, Tendulkar was nominated to Rajya Sabha, the upper house of the Parliament of India.

He was also the first sportsperson and the first one without aviation background to be awarded the honourary rank of Group Captain by the Indian Air Force.

He has received honourary doctorates from University of Mysore and Rajiv Gandhi University of Health Sciences. In 2012, he was named as an Honourary Member of the Order of Australia.

As of October 2013, Tendulkar has played 662 matches in international cricket. On 5 October 2013, Tendulkar became the 16th player and first Indian to aggregate 50 000 runs in all recognised cricket (First-class cricket, List A cricket and Twenty20 combined).

On 23 December 2012, Tendulkar announced his retirement from ODIs.

Tendulkar is the 51st richest sportsman in the world according to Forbes’ list of world’s highest-paid athletes for the year 2013, with his total earnings estimated to be $22 million.

In October 2013, the net worth of Tendulkar was estimated at $160 million by Wealth X, making him India’s wealthiest cricket player.

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