By Abhishek Roy
MUMBAI, Nov 16 — Sachin Tendulkar ended his fairytale cricket reign in style at the Wankhede Stadium here Saturday , hours after which he was awarded the Bharat Ratna, India’s highest civilian honour.
Before the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) announced the Bharat Ratna, Tendulkar’s teammates presented him a gift of an innings and 126-run victory over the West Indies in a shade over seven sessions. With it India wrapped up the series, winning the two Tests in a little over five days, the time normally allotted to one Test.
Tendulkar, 40, the most accomplished cricketer in world cricket finished his illustrious career with a fair clutch of world records in his kitty. He has 15,921 runs from a record 200 Test matches at an average of 53.58 and 51 centuries.
Tendulkar finished his ODI career December last year just minutes before the team for Pakistan was announced. He has scored 18,426 runs from 463 ODIs with an average of 44.83 including 49 centuries. He was also the first to score a double hundred in the 50-over format.
As the day began, it was just a matter of when the West Indies would be bowled out with the visitors reeling at 43 for three in the second innings, trailing India by 270 runs.
The crowd was getting impatient to the see the Test end and moment finally arrived at 11.47 a.m. Mohammed Shami castled No.11 Shane Shillingford and the Wankhede Stadium erupted.
Tendulkar rushed from the deep, where he was fielding and grabbed a stump. The entire Indian team lined up on either side of the pitch and gave him a guard of honour.
The giant screen flickered “legends never end” and the cameras soon panned on his family. His wife Anjali and daughter Sara were emotional. Son Arjun, who was a ball boy for the match, patted his elder sister.
It was a journey that touched many a life. For Tendulkar, himself it was hard to believe that his glorious run had finally come to an end at the venue he started.
But Saturday, the Wankhede reverberated with chants of ‘Sachin…Sachin…Sachin, and it will continue to hum in Tendulkar’s years lifelong.
“Sachin, Sachin which will reverberate in my ears till I stop breathing. Thank you very much. If I have missed anyone, I hope you understand. Goodbye,” said Tendulkar.
All throughout the celebrations, Tendulkar tried to hide his emotions under his floppy hat. The TV cameras tried all angles, yet Tendulkar tried his best to hide his emotions but just couldn’t as one intrepid cameraman caught his moist cheeks.
His teammates, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Virat Kohli, Shikhar Dhawan and Murali Vijay, took turns to carry him on their shoulders around the stadium for one last time.
It reminded many of April 2, 2011, when India won the World Cup and the batting great was carried around in a similar fashion.
After all celebrations ended, he walked back to the 22 yards of the Wankhede, touched the pitch as if to seek blessings for his retired life.