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HindustanTimes Wed,17 Sep 2014

Cricket

With Sachin's departure, it's end of a habit
Sanjjeev K Samyal , Hindustan Times
Mumbai, November 17, 2013
First Published: 00:19 IST(17/11/2013)
Last Updated: 01:33 IST(17/11/2013)

Sachiiinnnn… Sachiiinnnn. These chants will never be heard at cricket stadiums again. They have been part of the Indian fans' experience ever since Sachin Tendulkar's booming strokes started reverberating around the boundary in the cricketing world.

All farewells are emotional affairs, and there have been some big ones on the cricket field in the last two seasons. But it was probably for the first time that the whole country shed a tear. It's the magnetism of Tendulkar's batting and personality.

On Saturday, at the Wankhede Stadium, one of the glorious chapters in Indian history came to an end as an emotional Mumbai crowd joined hands to give the country's favourite son a fitting send-off.

At the start of Tendulkar's last day in international cricket, it was all normal traffic on the field. The man was his usual self, guiding the bowlers, running to his captain in between overs to discuss strategy. Till the point when the last wicket fell, there was no hint of what was to come.

Different reaction
When Mohammed Shami clean bowled Shannon Gabriel, the change in atmosphere was dramatic. Standing at square leg, Tendulkar tried to jump like every time to celebrate India's victory, but simply couldn't. For the first time in three days, Tendulkar had reacted abnormally.

The dreaded final moment had arrived and the wave of emotions as Tendulkar walked out overwhelmed everyone. His teammates lined up to form a rolling guard of honour near the centre square, and when Tendulkar broke down, there were tears rolling down many cheeks.

Most struggled to hide their feelings. Even the hardened ones melted when, at the end of it all, he walked up alone to the main wicket, bent and touched his home soil in respect. He had started his journey to glory on this turf and it was the perfect way to leave.

Looking lost
The series had been won, but Tendulkar's teammates were not celebrating. Dravid, Ganguly and Laxman, the three men with whom he shared some of the best moments of his career, were all looking equally lost.

It started at around 11.40 am with the West Indies' last wicket, and in the next hour-and-a-half, everyone fought to control their feelings. Amidst all the unease, the batsman mustered enough strength to produce a speech, which, though a thanksgiving to those who played a role in his life, must have touched the hearts of many all over India.

Voice choking
In his emotional state, it was tough for him to speak. It was delivered with the help of a bottle of water; when he felt the voice choking, he would take a sip. West Indies were already 42 for three on Friday, but it was still a full house.

From the time Tendulkar announced it to be his last, this game for his fans was mainly about participating in his final moments on a cricket pitch.

Some individuals achieve iconic status with their body of work, and not many were surprised the legend's farewell eclipsed everything else.

It was as if no one wanted the Tendulkar story to end. In Argentina, no one has filled the void left by Maradona; Brazil's hasn't got another Pele. There won't be another Tendulkar!


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