It may not have been the fairytale ending everybody was hoping for but Sachin Tendlukar’s illustrious career finally came to an end earlier this week in front of a 32,000 strong crowd in Mumbai.
Playing in his recordbreaking 200th Test match, Tendulkar was welcomed to the crease by a guard of honour from players and officials whilst the chant ‘Sachin, Sachin’ echoed around Wankhede Stadium.
A somewhat disappointing stand of just ten runs had seen the Little Master bowled out in the previous innings against the West Indies yet he rolled back the clock in his final outing to score a credible 74 runs.
Smashing 12 fours from 118 deliveries, the 40-year-old looked vibrant with the bat and whispers of a 52nd Test century were becoming more and more prominent as the match unfolded.
However, it seemed West Indies bowler, Narsingh Deonarine, and Captain Darren Sammy had not been given the same script. A Deonarine delivery was masterful caught by Darren Sammy at slip, and within a second the curtain came down on the legend’s 24- year career.
The sold-out crowd was silenced, whilst a subdued Sammy refused to celebrate the final dismissal of one of cricket’s greatest batsmen. As Tendulkar made his final walk off the pitch, the crowd once again mustered up an emotional ovation.
With every record worth holding already in the sporting icons pocket, he will leave the game knowing that very few people will ever come close to matching his statistics.
Not only is he the leading runscorer in the history of Tests, with 15,921 runs in his 200 matches, but he also boasts the most runs in the history of one-day internationals, with 18,246 runs in an amazing 463 ODIs.
Blessed with the keenest of cricket minds, Tendulkar made his international debut in 1989, aged just 16, in a Test with Pakistan. Just one year later, in his 14th innings, he registered his first Test century against England at Old Trafford.
Some of his finest and most memorable performances came against Australia, the overwhelmingly dominant team of his era.
His century as a 19-year-old on a lightning-fast pitch at the WACA is considered one of the best innings ever to have been played in the cricket-mad country.
A few years later he received the ultimate compliment from the ultimate batsman: Don Bradman (holder of the highest batting average ever at 99.94 runs) who confided to his wife that Tendulkar reminded him of himself.
In 2000 he became the first batsman to register 50 international hundreds and eight years later in 2008 he passed Brian Lara as the leading Test run-score.
Most recently, last year, when just one month short of his 39th birthday, Tendulkar became the first player to score 100 international centuries, which like Bradman's batting average, could be a mark that lasts forever.
Speaking about his career, the cricketing ace explained that it all seems like a ‘dream’.
“It's hard to imagine a life without playing cricket because it's all I've ever done since I was 11,” he said.
“All my life, I have had a dream of playing cricket for India. I have been living this dream every day for the last 24 years.”
President of the Board of Control for Cricket in India, N Srinivasan, added: “He is without doubt the greatest cricketer India has produced.
“In fact, one should really say he ranks among the top of alltime great sportspersons in the world. No one has served Indian cricket as Sachin has.
“He has truly been an ambassador for India and Indian cricket. He has been an inspiration for generations of sportsmen, not just cricketers.
“We respect his decision to retire, although many of us can't imagine an Indian team without Sachin.”