The master takes a final bow

Posted on November 16, 2013

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It was inevitable. If it did not sink in when the announcement came on October 10, it should at least start from today. Sachin Tendulkar walked off the field for one last time. Sachin Tendulkar has retired.

Sachin Tendulkar enters the Wankhede dressing room after his final mathc.

Sachin Tendulkar enters the Wankhede dressing room after his final match.

At the end of the 47th over, Mohammed Shami’s in-swinger knocked Shannon Gabriel’s middle stump to give India an innings victory, and from that moment on the crowd was on its feet for the next thirty minutes. No one moved out, everyone had their gaze transfixed on Sachin, with his trademark sunhat on. As the team shook hands, the Indian squad formed a guard of honour that moved in tandem sideways as he walked towards the boundary and subsequently the hallowed Wankhede pavilion staircase. The noise was deafening, for every step Tendulkar took, the decibel level went a notch higher. And why not? This was the last opportunity for fans to scream ‘Sachin Sachin’ with their lungs out in unison forming a thunderous melody. The sore throat can always be cured later.

During the walk, his hands reached for his eyes, he was not able to control the tears. The thought of tomorrow must have sent a cold shiver down the spine.

Planning after penultimate
Shane Shillingford was the eight wicket to go, with R Ashwin bowling from the Tata End. The team got into the customary huddle, but Tendulkar’s presence lasted just a few seconds. He briskly jogged back to his position at short fine leg. It was probably skipper MS Dhoni confirming the plans after the victory.

The scalping of the seven West Indian wickets was just a mere formality on Saturday, the opening act of a concert that ended in an ocean of emotions. The stadium was almost filled to the brim, but people started pouring in only after the fifth West Indian wicket fell; they only wanted to catch the feature presentation.

Lunch was extended for half an hour and the crowd started getting restless, the end was in sight. And when it came, it hit you hard. You could not simply hold back the tears.

Later, an emotional message, read from a note, by the Master filled with acknowledgements – like an Oscar winner – sent the audience in raptures too. More than once Tendulkar had to gesture requesting for silence, his speech on the microphone fell flat against the hoarse cries of fans. But as he carried on, it was pin drop silence. His wife Anjali reached for a napkin when Sachin acknowledged her sacrifices, aviators covered her eyes but the sentiment was no less. He spoke about his father and mother, their roles in shaping his career, to give him the liberty to follow his dreams. His brothers, sister, uncle, aunt; Tendulkar hoped he had not missed out on anyone.

As he recalled his past, flashes of the past struck you one after the other, starting from his Shivaji Park days to the selectors’ confidence him. His voice had a different tone, it was laced with melancholy and came straight from the heart.

If the final lap of honour – well orchestrated by security officials – had not given you enough goosebumps, then Tendulkar’s final walk to the pitch, bending down to touch the ground, offering his mark of respect and wiping that tear away definitely had you.

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The passion still

Earlier in the day, the boy in Tendulkar was evident for a few seconds. A celebratory shout when he scored a goal during the team’s football session before start of play. During the course of the match, he fielded all over the ground and on many occasions waved back and smiled to every call of his name.

The crowd well aware his final essay with the bat had come, and wanted to see him flex his arm. ‘Tendulkar, bowling-kar’ and ‘We want Tendulkar’ were the requests, Dhoni would have obviously heard. The skipper finally relented in the 41st over and Tendulkar deposited his hat with the umpire, twiddling with the ball. The two-over spell raised more applause than any of Pragyan Ojha’s wicket-taking deliveries. Dhoni was hailed for playing to popular demand.

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