Sachin Tendulkar had kept millions of his fans cheerful in victory and hopeful in defeat for 23 years before announcing his retirement in one-day cricket, a format in which he was ahead of his peers. Now, the big question of whether he would also call time on his Test career is likely to be answered this year. The batsman, who turns 40 in April, has endured a difficult time over the last two seasons and failed to stamp his authority in the last two home series - against New Zealand which India won and in the 1-2 defeat against England.
Tendulkar gave a pretty good indication that he wanted his ODI career to taper off - he had played only 21 of 50 India had played before this series against Pakistan - before quitting that format. That he left for Mussoorie with his family on the day the announcement was made suggested it was time for calm reflection for the batting great. After being caught short on build-up that was blamed for Tendulkar repeatedly getting bowled, he will now play for Mumbai in the Ranji knockout phase to prepare for the home Test series against Australia that starts on February 22. How he fares in this series will decide the course of his career. The fact that there is a long gap before the South Africa tour at the end of the year gives one a feeling that he could take the big big decision during that period.
One question being asked is whether he should be regularly playing ODIs to stay in form for Tests. That is why some experts feel he should not have quit ODIs. The series against Aussies will provide the answer.