Sachin Tendulkar was greeted by a thunderous chanting of his name as he walked in to bat on the first day of his 200th and final Test at the Wankhede stadium today.
India ended Day 1 at 157/2, as Tendulkar made an elegant 38* studded with glimpses of the vintage class and master strokeplay the cricketing god is worshipped for. The glorious cover drive, balanced straight drive, cheeky leg glance and scorching square drive — he played them all, effortlessly.
With the Indian bowlers doing a remarkable job to bundle out the visiting West Indies team before the tea session for a paltry 182 and India losing the two openers in quick succession, the Wankhede crowd got the treat it had been waiting for.
The 40-year-old walked in to bat following Murali Vijay's dismissal, amid an ear-splitting chant of ‘Sachin… Sachin!’ as the giant screen on the ground read: ‘don't even blink’ (as Tendulkar plays).
Sunil Gavaskar greets Sachin Tendulkar during the release of a postal stamp honouring the latter on the first day of his last Test match at Wankhede Stadium. (Ajay Aggarwal/ HT photo)
Tendulkar, whose body language appeared calm amid the frenzy, bowed at the boundary rope and then looked heavenward before entering the ground. The Caribbean team lined up to give him a guard of honour before he proceeded to join Cheteshwar Pujara at the crease.
With assured footwork, forward and back, covering the turn and bounce by going right back and across and a dead bat to potentially dangerous deliveries, the maestro dented West Indian hopes ball-by-ball to remain unbeaten. The interest in Day 2 of his swansong Test is expected to go through the roof. (READ: Tendulkar uses special tricolour bat in final Test)
Batting on this pitch was not easy, but the maestro made it look so — with his mother, Rajni Tendulkar, in the stands to watch him play for the first time in his international career.
At stumps, India were comfortably placed at 157 for two after bundling out the hapless West Indies for a meagre 182 by tea, riding on left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha's five-wicket haul.
Ojha took five wickets giving away 40 runs as West Indian team collapsed with wickets falling at regular intervals. The West Indies put on a poor show after being put in by Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni. They lost eight wickets for just 89 runs in a single session, much to the delight of the Wankhede crowd that was eagerly awaiting Tendulkar’s arrival at the pitch.
Sachin Tendulkar leaving the ground on the first day of his last Test match against West Indies at Wankhede Stadium. (Ajay Aggarwal/ HT photo)
Kieran Powell (48) and Darren Bravo (29) were the only batsmen to put up a semblance of fight against the stifling line and length of the Indian bowlers.
India responded strongly with openers Murali Vijay (43) and Shikhar Dhawan (33) putting on 77 runs in quick time. The two were sent back by Shane Shillingford before Tendulkar and Cheteshwar Pujara (34) took control of the proceedings.
India, leading 1-0 after winning the first Test in Kolkata inside three days, were just 25 runs behind West Indies at close of play raising doubts whether the match would span the full term of five days.
Statistical highlights on Day one of the Wankhede Test:
# Both Sourav Ganguly and Mahendra Singh Dhoni now share an Indian record of captaining India in 49 Tests.
# Sachin Tendulkar has become the first player to play 200 Tests. He needs 115 runs more in the present Test to become the first batsman to complete 16000 runs - his tally being 15885 at an average of 53.84.
# Shivnarine Chanderpaul became the first West Indian to play 150 Tests.
# Despite failing to score a fifty in his last six innings vs India, Chanderpaul is averaging 64.54 against them - his aggregate being 2130 runs in 25 Tests.
# Pragyan Ojha's excellent figures of 5 for 40 are his third five-wicket haul against the West Indies - his sixth in Tests.
# Ojha's aforesaid performance is his third best in Tests behind the 6 for 47 at Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai and 6 for 72 at Feroz Shah Kotla, Delhi - against West Indies in 2011-12.
# With his three five-wicket instances at Wankhede Stadium, Ojha has set an Indian record - twice against the West Indies and once against England. He has emulated Ian Botham. Both the bowlers have taken three five-wicket hauls in Tests at this venue.
# Ojha enjoys an excellent record at Wankhede Stadium, claiming 17 wickets (ave. 21.88) in three Tests - the highest captured by him at any ground.
# Ravichandran Ashwin has captured Darren Bravo's wicket four times in five Tests - the most occasion a bowler has claimed his wicket.
# Kieran Powell (48 off 80 balls) has posted his highest Test score in eight innings - his only fifty against India is 81 at Mumbai in November 2011.
# Mahendra Singh Dhoni became the first Indian wicketkeeper and the seventh in Test annals to complete 250 dismissals or more in Tests.
# The leading wicketkeepers with most dismissals are - Mark Boucher (555), Adam Gilchrist (416), Ian Healy (395), Rodney Marsh (355), Jeff Dujon (270), Alan Knott (269) and Dhoni - 251 (215 catches + 36 dismissals) in 146 innings.
# Shikhar Dhawan (33 off 28 balls) has recorded his highest score against the West Indies.
# With 499 runs (ave.55.44) in six Tests, Murali Vijay is the top run-scorer for India in Tests this year.
# Ashwin became the 19th Indian bowler to reach 100 wickets in Tests. His distinction of achieving the 100 Test wickets in 18 Tests is an Indian record, eclipsing Erapalli Prasanna's feat in 20 Tests. George Lohmann (England) holds a record, having taken only 16 Tests. Australia's Charlie Turner & Clarrie Grimmet and England's Sydney Barnes took 17 Tests each for their respective 100 wickets.