As you head towards the Wankhede, the buzz around Sachin Tendulkar’s retirement hits you. From commuters at the Churchgate station, which adjoins the venue of the master’s swansong, to the guards at the stadium entrance, all talk is about Tendulkar.
Inside the stadium, it is packed with trucks and people are busy ensuring that the setting is spotless for Tendulkar’s farewell Test, against West Indies, starting on November 14.
Preparations specific to Tendulkar’s demands – a ramp for his wheelchair-bound mother and painting of the president’s box where she is likely to sit – are in special focus. The atmosphere is more like that of a grand festival, and less like a cricket contest. The mood was more introspective in the Caribbean camp as they toiled under the harsh sun while India opted to rest.
“I don’t think the occasion will get the better of the contest. We are all aware of paying tribute to a legend. But at end of day, we know what we are here to do, which we didn’t do as well as we should have in Kolkata,” coach Ottis Gibson said.
For Windies, the most important thing is squaring the series. It is even bigger than their own Shivnarine Chanderpaul playing his 150th Test. “We salute both Sachin and Shiv,” said Gibson.