When the No 4 batsman in the India batting line-up begins his walk from the dressing room balcony, the din at the Wankhede Stadium will be like never before. There is a Test match to be won and fought, but there's no denying the fact that the India versus West Indies series was put together only
for this moment.
Once Sachin Tendulkar announced that the Mumbai Test will be his last, cricket was always going to be a side-show.
People have gone out of their way to buy tickets and they will throng the venue. But, for once, not just seeking out the thrill of another hundred from the maestro; the main attraction will be to be part of the standing ovation in celebration of one of the glorious careers in the game.
In the process if they get a glimpse of his genius one last time, nothing like it. But it's no more about the fear of failure, for him or his fans. They know they have seen the best of him and it has passed. If he gives them something more, they will lap it up but there are no unfulfilled wishes or demands.
We have been at the Wankhede Stadium when Tendulkar has dazzled, the team has lost, but yet everyone has gone home happy. Not the man himself, though. And, it will be the same in his final Test.
Getting out for a duck won't hurt him as much as if he finishes his farewell game on the losing side. Expect no change and for the next five days, Tendulkar will be stretching every sinew to get his team home.
No one knows it better than his teammates. If West Indies were hoping to exploit the distraction to sneak into the series, they will be mistaken; don't expect no let-up in intensity. If anything, India look mighty inspired by the occasion as proved in the first Test.
For the Mumbai crowd, it will be a poignant moment to see Tendulkar pass the baton to local-boy Rohit Sharma. Alongwith Sharma, the biggest threat for West Indies will come from Mohammed Shami.
While the West Indians will do their all to respect Tendulkar, be ready with a guard of honour to mark his entry, it will the two new members of India who will dominate their team meeting.
Playing out Shami and getting out Rohit will be the decisive phase of the game. It is also likely to decide whether Tendulkar will walk into the sunset in a blaze of glory?
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