"There are no more matches, (Achrekar) sir, in my life. I will be witnessing cricket, and cricket will always stay in my heart...." Sachin Tendulkar has surely left the building.
He played his last day as an international cricketer minus the melodrama. During his brief two-over spell, there was a hint of expression when Shane Shillingford came forward and negotiated a leg-break that turned and bounced.
That was it. When India completed victory, Tendulkar picked up a stump, hugged his team mates and shook hands with the umpires and the West Indies players lined up at the boundary.
Rohit Sharma, Man-of-the-Series, revealed the mood in the dressing room. "Sachin didn't say anything. Whatever he said was later (in his speech). (Only) Duncan Fletcher gave a speech like he does after every series."
The same can't be said of the crowd, which wept. Tendulkar was in tears while walking back to the change room. Media men were crying, and so was old mate, VVS Laxman, and Alan Wilkins, a popular commentator.
"It happens to the best of us. It was really sad, no?" asked Laxman. Bear in mind, these tears were shed before Tendulkar's speech. Let us say 5,000 people cried before the speech and 10,000 after.
Include Ian Bishop among the latter. "Never seen such adulation for a man in my life, this is beyond the realm of reality. This is the best life can offer. And we're privileged to see it," he said.
At square leg
Like he had for most of his career, Tendulkar fielded at mid-offf/mid-on. His last-ever position was square leg. His last two overs in international cricket yielded 8 runs; It was vintage Tendulkar.
He tried to york 'em, bowled outrageous full tosses, some leg-breaks too wide to cut, a few googlies that struck the pad. The Wankhede crowd enjoyed every second of it.
When Tendulkar was removed, the crowd let it rip at Dhoni. Out of the attack, Tendulkar was pushed to long-off. Immediately, spectators in those stands flashed out their mobile cameras, Tendulkar turned around and waved his hand.
Tendulkar was back to mid off. With Shami attempting to clean up the last pair, Tendulkar moved to leg slip. Shami's first crack was fast, and the ball ricocheted off last man Gabriel's shoe and raced to fine leg.
Tendulkar was in pursuit, the last time he'd ever chase a ball and throw it back to the 'keeper. He was now posted to fine leg for a delivery before finishing up at square leg. And then Shami finished things off.
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