Sachin Tendulkar, the demi-god of Indian cricket and the world’s most prolific run-scorer, announced on Thursday he will quit Test cricket after playing his 200th match against the West Indies next month.
"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," the 40-year-old said in a statement released by the Board Of Control For Cricket In India (BCCI) on Thursday.
"It's hard for me to imagine a life without playing cricket because it's all I have ever done since I was 11 years old,” he said.
"I thank the BCCI for everything over the years and for permitting me to move on when my heart feels it's time," he added.
Tendulkar has already retired from ODIs. His last test will be against the West Indies at a yet to be determined venue from November 14-18.
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A legend who shattered records but remained humble
Former Australia captain Ricky Ponting once said that he would probably be batting in a wheelchair if he survived in world cricket as long as Sachin Tendulkar.
Feared and respected by opponents, Tendulkar changed the definition of Indian batting, shrewdly combining orthodox and unorthodox shots to dominate any attack on any surface at home or abroad.
Legendary India opener Sunil Gavaskar, the first batsman to complete 10,000 Test runs, said he was convinced the 1.65-metre (5 foot, 5 inches) batsman would achieve greatness when he first saw him bat in the nets more than two decades ago.
"It is hard to imagine any player in the history of the game who combines classical technique with raw aggression like the little champion does. There is not a single shot he cannot play," he said.
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Tendulkar shattered batting records, earned millions of dollars and was revered as a demi-god in India and particularly at home in Mumbai. But in the eyes of many fans, humility remains his prime virtue.
He's the closest thing cricket has ever seen to the great Sir Donald Bradman, the Australian who famously averaged 99.94 per test innings in the 1930s and 40s and has no peers in the game.
Tendulkar learned to carry the weight of expectations early on, after making his international debut during a testing tour in 1989 at the age of 16 against a Pakistan lineup containing the great Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis in its bowling attack.
The feat of scoring centuries on debut in all three of India's top domestic tournaments - the Ranji Trophy, Duleep Trophy and Irani Cup- could not be repeated in international cricket but Tendulkar quickly slipped into the role of a reliable middle-order batsman in tests and later as a hard-hitting opener in ODIs.
There were early comparisons with contemporaries such as Brian Lara and Inzamam-ul-Haq. Then the ultimate flattery, with Bradman saying that watching Tendulkar was like watching himself bat.
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"I asked my wife to have a look at him because ... I never saw myself play but I feel that this fella is playing much the same as I used to play," Bradman was quoted as saying before he died a decade ago. "She had a look at the television and said 'Yes, there is a similarity between the two.'"
Tendulkar shattered batting records, earned millions of dollars and was revered as a demi-god in the country and particularly at home in Mumbai. But in the eyes of many fans, humility remains his prime virtue.
If there was any arrogance, it was in his batting because he loved to dominate bowlers before injuries to his elbow, back and ankle forced him to adapt his game in the latter years of his career.
"The way he conducts himself and handles fame and everything that goes with being Sachin is a great example for all sportsmen," Australian leg-spin great Shane Warne wrote in his book "Shane Warne's century".
"On the field, he has never put himself before the team."
PHOTO GALLERY: Sachin calls it a day
Technically sound, temperamentally unflappable, quick to adapt to different conditions, Tendulkar came very close to batting perfection in his pomp.
He also became an unrivalled source of pride in a country with few international sporting heroes, capitalising on his status with commercial deals to advertise cement, watches, sportswear and apartments among others.
While little is shared about his private life, he is known as a fast-car enthusiast once reported to take his beloved Ferrari out in the early hours of the morning to beat the traffic in his native Mumbai.
Under the guidance of his elder brother and to the bemusement of his late father, a college professor, Tendulkar spent hours honing his skills as a boy along with hundreds of others on a busy park known as the Oval Maidan in central Mumbai.
The last few years have been marked by a steady decline, with commentators openly questioning his eyesight and voicing opinions that would once have been heretical -- that Sachin was no longer worth his place in the team.
His success as captain was limited, but he made some vital contributions during the more prosperous reigns of skippers Mohammad Azharuddin, Sourav Ganguly and Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
It was Tendulkar's ability to bounce back repeatedly from lapses of form and his ability to adapt to different conditions and situations that helped him finish with most major batting records to his name.
I have been an ardent follower and admirer of Sachin Tendulkar from the days he came to play Buchi Babu in Chennai. He is without doubt the greatest cricketer India has produced. In fact one should really say he ranks among the top of all time great sports persons in the world -- BCCI President N Srinivasan
He had all the shots in the world. Don't just think about the talent that he had, because he was born with that. It is the effort that he has put in which is for all young cricketers to emulate. As for his last test, I would want him to play his 200th test (on home ground) in Mumbai -- Sourav Ganguly
It's a sad day but everyone has to go one day. He has given happiness to millions and millions of people and has never been controversial -- Kapil Dev
It's the right time for him to retire - after 200 tests. Pressure for him has always been more than for anyone else because people expected him to score a century every time he went out to bat -- Muttiah Muralitharan
Greatest batsman retires. The Master brought a lot of happiness globally -- Former England captain Michael Vaughan
Sachin was born to be 'Milestone Sachin Tendulkar' because whatever he did was a milestone. Even now he practises for two hours, which makes him a big role model for youngsters -- Lalchand Rajput, coach of the 2007 Twenty20 World Cup winning Indian team