India great Sachin Tendulkar will bring the curtain down on an illustrious international career after his 200th Test against West Indies next month.
The Little Master has transcended the game both at home and abroad since his international debut in 1989 as a fresh-faced 16-year-old, going on to become the all-time leading run-scorer in Tests and one-day internationals. But Tendulkar, who retired from one-day internationals last year, has announced the two-match series with the Windies on home soil will be his last Tests.
It promises to be an emotional affair for the 40-year-old, who is widely regarded as the greatest living batsman and whose record-breaking achievements in his 198 Tests and 463 ODIs arguably outweigh anyone to have ever played cricket. He will bow out as the only player to register 100 international centuries and his record of 15,837 runs in Tests – which is more than 2,000 ahead of nearest rival Ricky Ponting – at an average of 53.86, will surely never be surpassed.
But reaching the 16,000-run landmark against the Windies will prove an alluring target for Tendulkar, who will be aiming to end his career on a high note. Perhaps unsurprisingly for someone who has dedicated most of his life to becoming one of the best players in cricket, Tendulkar admits he will struggle to adjust without the game.
But Tendulkar, despite his status in India, was typically humble in a short statement on the Board of Control for Cricket in India website. “All my life, I have had a dream of playing cricket for India. I have been living this dream every day for the last 24 years. It’s hard for me to imagine a life without playing cricket because it’s all I have ever done since I was 11 years old,” he said.
“It’s been a huge honour to have represented my country and played all over the world. I look forward to playing my 200th Test match on home soil, as I call it a day. I thank the BCCI for everything over the years and for permitting me to move on when my heart feels it’s time! I thank my family for their patience and understanding.
“Most of all, I thank my fans and well-wishers who through their prayers and wishes have given me the strength to go out and perform at my best.”
His move has not come as a surprise. Tendulkar has not had three figures in 21 Tests since an innings of 146 against South Africa in Cape Town in 2011.
Nevertheless, that should not detract from an international career that began when he was just a teenager against Pakistan in Karachi in November 1989.
He made the first of an unprecedented 51 Test centuries in his ninth match the next year.
The former India captain became the first batsman to reach 50 international hundreds in 2000 and went on to surpass former West Indies batsman Brian Lara as the leading Test run-scorer eight years later.
While he thrived under pressure to deliver wins for India, there have been times when it appeared the pressure took its toll – most noticeably in his struggle to reach the landmark of 100 international centuries.
An innings of 111 on March 12, 2011 in an ODI against South Africa was his 99th ton, although it took him just over a year to register another hundred for India against Bangladesh in Dhaka.
There will be much clamour for his final Test match to be in Mumbai, the domestic team Tendulkar has represented since 1988, but the BCCI has to make an announcement on either venue for the Windies series.
BCCI president N. Srinivasan led the tributes to Tendulkar: “He is without doubt the greatest cricketer India has produced. In fact one should really say he ranks among the top of all time great sports persons in the world. No one has served Indian cricket as Sachin has.”