The Test series against the West Indies that started on Wednesday at Kolkata's Eden Gardens is no ordinary one. Indian fans and cricket enthusiasts all over the world will see the most prolific international run-scorer Sachin Tendulkar play his penultimate game.
Thousands trooped into Eden Gardens in Kolkata on Wednesday to see master blaster Sachin Tendulkar play his penultimate Test match. (ANI photo)
Tendulkar, who made his international debut against Pakistan in 1989 as a 16-year-old, would play his 199th test in the series opener from November 6-10.
He will then bring up No 200 at Mumbai's Wankhede Stadium overlooking the Arabian Sea from Nov 14-18 before retiring from all forms of the game.
Fans and Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) have left no stone unturned to make it a memorable send-off for the "god of cricket" ever since Tendulkar announced his retirement from all forms of cricket.
"This is Sachin Pujo, after all," said an official at the Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) while explaining why it plans to show some serious flower power - 199kg of rose petals - when Tendulkar leaves the Eden the final time.
Sachin Tendulkar during his penultimate test match between India and West Indies at Eden Garden in Kolkata. (PTI photo)
From the team hotel which has introduced 'Cover Drive in the Legend's Style' menu only for this Test to hoardings dotting Kolkata's skyline, from a wax statute sculpted from memory augmented by some newspaper pictures by Asansol's Sushanta Ray to a special 40kg cake and custom-made sandesh, the enthusiasm has spilled well beyond the boundary.
Video: Sachin fever grips Kolkata as frenzied fans await to watch him play
Sachin seemed to be enjoying himself, running up to Bhuvneshwar Kumar to congratulate him when he removed Chris Gayle in the 10th over of the game. Even while fielding at midwicket or mid-on, he occasionally ran up to captain MS Dhoni to share ideas and strategies.
There was more in store for the fans when Dhoni threw the ball to the maestro is the last but one over of the post lunch session. Each ball Tendulkar bowled was backed by Eden chanting ‘Sachin, Sachin’. More importantly wife Anjali and son Arjun were in the lower tier of the clubhouse when Eden Gardens erupted in joy at Sachin's latest feat - the wicket of Shaun Shillingford .
The fans too did not seem to mind the wait to see him bat. As Sachin went to field at long on, an entire lower-tier stand emptied out as spectators flocked to the fence to wave at the little master. He stayed focused at first but as the cheers got louder, Tendulkar waved back at them, sending the spectators in a tizzy.
Read: Sachin's 199th Test is a 'pilgrimage and a lifetime experience' for fans
As the teams went into lunch at about 11am, the crowd was still building up. Around 30,000 people were already at the venue by then.
The CAB is also distributing a book on Sachin Tendulkar only for the first day of the Test. Apart from statistics of the past nine India-West Indies Tests at Eden it also contains articles on Tendulkar by Imran Khan, Sir Viv Richards, Steve Waugh, Glenn McGrath, Abdul Qadir, Sanath Jayasuriya, Steve Bucknor and Sir Richard Hadlee.
The celebrations have not been glitch free however. After misspelling Sachin Tendulka's name in a banner on Tuesday, CAB goofed up again when during lunch, the electronic giant screen flashed 'Welcome Mr Anjali Tendulkar' after Sachin's wife arrived at the Eden.