Sachin Tendulkar didn’t want to be like Michael Jordan — flitting in and out of retirement. After he left, there would be no longing that there’s ‘more cricket left in me’. But that dilemma may still haunt him.
Because the way he played his farewell Test, not the 74 runs he scored but the quality of batting he produced, showed that at 40, he can still match the best in the game.
Starting the day on 38, Tendulkar sent expectations soaring as he raced to his half-century with a couple of boundaries. When he produced a backfoot cover drive off Tino Best, it was clear he wasn’t just milking the West Indies bowlers but was on top of his game.
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Tendulkar has always been about the statistics and here too, some big ones beckoned. He was within touching distance of 16,000 Test runs. But he knew this knock wasn’t about the numbers. It was about preserving a legacy established over 24 years of sweat and toil.
Achievements aside, cricket is also about entertainment and any player would vouch that he would want to be remembered as an entertainer.
Read More: Tendulkar scores 74 in farewell Test
Sachin Tendulkar acknowledges the affection and support of spectators as he walks off the field after his dismissal on Day 2 of the final Test match against West Indies at Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai. (PTI Photo)
Tendulkar has that quality and in what was probably his last innings, he reminded the world what it would miss most about him — his ability to convert strokeplay into an art form.
Most importantly, Tendulkar will be pleased that he is leaving the team in safe hands. Friday saw Cheteshwar Pujara notch up his fifth hundred in 15 Tests, Rohit Sharma his second in just two Tests while Virat Kohli smashed another classy 57.
The West Indies, staring at what seems like certain defeat, may not have much to cheer about, but that’s not the case for Narsingh Deonarine. The Guyana spinner has had a stop-start career but his place in the history books is assured as the one to claim the wicket of the modern Don in his last Test.
In pics: Sachin's farewell Test, day 2
If the Master was faultless on Thursday evening, he was in a hurry on Friday. For a man with a ton of tons, another century was there for the taking, but Tendulkar was in the mood for some fun, toying with the bowlers like the old times. Finally, he paid the price when he edged Deonarine to slip. And a funereal hush descended on a sellout 32,000-strong stadium. Full Coverage: Sachin's last bow
If Tendulkar was emotional, he didn’t show it. He walked back to the pavilion as the crowd came alive once again, rising as one to see him off. He gave a slight wave of his hand and was gone - 24 years to the day he made his international debut. The legend didn’t have a one-day farewell, but his home crowd more than made up for it. All endings are sad, but he will cherish this send-off.
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