By NOUMAN KHALIL
India’s batting maestro Sachin Tendulkar, who always reminded the ‘ultimate batsman’ Don Bradman of himself, is playing his career’s last series at the age of 40.
In front of 45,000 spectators and millions and millions of fans across the globe, Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar — popularly known as Sachin Tendulkar — will play his 200th and career’s final Test match against the West Indies at Mumbai’s Wankhede Stadium on Thursday.
Tickets are already sold out at the Wankhede Stadium and all preparations are completed to give a gigantic farewell to the little master who ruled the world of cricket for 24 years.
Tendulkar last week played his career’s 199th Test against the West Indies at the Eden Gardens. He seemed a little disappointed in the first innings when the umpire raised his finger and gave him lbw off the bowling of Shillingford though side camera views showed the ball would have gone over the wickets.
He couldn’t get a chance to bat in the second innings as India crushed the West Indies by an innings and 51 runs within three days.
Tendulkar’s wife Anjali Tendulkar and son Arjun Tendulkar were also present to watch him playing the last series of his career.
The match saw debutant Rohit Sharma getting his cap from none other than batting great Sachin Tendulkar and hitting his maiden Test ton to become the 14th Indian to hit a century on Test debut.
In the first innings, Sharma (127) and Ravichandran Ashwin (124) put together an Indian record of 280 runs for the seventh wicket while India made 354 for six.
In reply the West Indies collapsed from 101 for 1 and then to 168 all out, plunging to an innings defeat inside three days at Eden Gardens.
One the one hand when Sharma and Ashwin scored valuable centuries, another debutant Mohammed Shami blew out the West Indian batting lineup with controlled display of reverse swing.
Shami took nine wickets in the game, the most by an India fast bowler on debut. Six of them were clean bowled, interestingly with the old ball.
India has now taken a 1-0 lead in the two-match Test series, but the little master Sachin Tendulkar will remain the focus of the spectators in Mumbai.
Tendulkar has been the most complete batsman of his time, the most prolific run-maker of all time and one of the biggest cricket icons the game has ever produced.
Once Don Bradman — recognized as the ‘ultimate batsman’ in the cricket world — said about Tendulkar: “He reminds me of myself.”
No wonder why he reminded the ‘ultimate batsman’ of himself: the right-handed Tendulkar was the finest batsman and remained the scoring machine for India throughout his career.
Born in Mumbai in April 1973, Tendulkar started playing cricket at the age of 11 and within five years made his Test debut against Pakistan at the National Stadium, Karachi.
In his career of 199 Test matches, Tendulkar scored 15,847 runs with the help of 51 hundreds and 67 half centuries at an average of 53.71. His highest score was unbeaten 248.
Besides 96 twenty20 and 309 first-class cricket matches, he also played 463 One-Day Internationals in which he piled up 18,426 runs at an average of 44.83. He also has 46 Test and 154 ODI wickets to his credit.
Tendulkar retired from the IPL in May this year and announced he would say goodbye to cricket after playing his 200th Test match against the West Indies before his home crowd in Mumbai’s Wankhede Stadium.
In the years to come, the cricket great is likely to join the senior little master, Sunil Gavaskar, and many more legends of the cricket world in the ICC Hall of Fame.
In 2000 he became the first batsman to have scored 50 international hundreds. In 2008 he passed Brian Lara as the leading Test run-scorer, and in the years after, he went past 13,000 Test runs — a total of 30,000 international runs in all forms of the game — and 50 Test hundreds.
Currently at 23rd position on the Reliance ICC Player Rankings for Test batsmen, Tendulkar will try to finish his illustrious career inside the top 20.
Tendulkar has previously held the number one spot, having first topped the batting charts in November 1994 when he overtook Brian Lara in Mumbai after hitting 34 and 85 runs against the West Indies.
He last held the top spot in June 2011 before surrendering it to South Africa’s Jacques Kallis after deciding to give the series in the West Indies a miss.
Tendulkar topped the batting tables five times in his career – November 1994, March 1998, May 2000, early 2002 and October 2010. He also spent a total of 139 Tests (fourth most) and 1,157 days (12th most) as the top-ranked batsman in Test cricket.
If the current series ends in a draw, India will retain third position but will slip to 114 ratings points while the West Indies will join Australia on 101 ratings points but will be ranked above Michael Clarke’s men when the ratings are calculated beyond the decimal point.
If India wins the series 1-0, then it will move ahead of England into second place on 117 ratings points, while a 2-0 win will put it in second place on 119 ratings points.
Meanwhile, the Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association (HPCA) early this week decided to construct a museum dedicated to Tendulkar at its showpiece venue in Dharamsala located at an altitude of 4,000 feet above sea level with the mighty snow-clad Dhauladhars forming the backdrop.
“A world-class museum dedicated to the Indian cricket will be set up. One part of the museum will be dedicated exclusively to Tendulkar,” said Mohit Sood, HPCA press secretary.
He said a decision in this regard was taken at the HPCA’s executive committee meeting presided over by its president Anurag Thakur.
“It’s a small tribute by the cricket association to the greatest son of Indian cricket who has inspired generations of cricketers across the world,” Thakur said in a statement.
The stadium, 250km from state capital Shimla, has 21,600-seating capacity, besides a world-class indoor stadium comprising video analysis facilities for both bowlers and players, a club lounge, restaurant, bar and a banquet hall.
The popularity of the venue soared after first ODI between India and England in January this year.
— With inputs from IANS
By NOUMAN KHALIL