Down the memory lane: When Tendulkar bewitched India for the last time
It was 14th of November 2013, around 3:30 Pm, the world witnessed the loudest cheer on the dismissal of an Indian batsman in India. The ball took the inside edge of Murali Vijay’s bat, and the man at short leg completed the catch. And, as Vijay's dismissal was confirmed, a sea of humanity erupted at the Wankhede Stadium in unison. Yes! An Indian batsman had lost his wicket, but on that day, nothing mattered.
And then, came out Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar, the man who for almost a quarter of a century had borne the expectations of over a billion people on his shoulders. He strode out to the middle to bat for the one last time donning the Indian jersey, and everyone present in the Wankhede Stadium was chanting “Sachiiin, Sachin”.
The West Indian players formed a guard of honor for the master. Tendulkar tapped the pitch a number of times with his bat and took guard for the 329th time for India in test cricket. No player has played more innings for his country, and in all probability, this record might stand the test of time as well.
Shane Shillingford got ready, and so did Tendulkar. Shillingford tossed the ball up, and Tendulkar flicked it to the leg side out of danger. The little master scored his first boundary by cutting Shillingford past point. Tendulkar used the depth of the crease to good effect, and the crowd roared in unbridled joy.
The second boundary that Tendulkar scored proved that it was a magician at work. The ball was tossed up, and Tendulkar just punched it past mid-off off his front foot against the turn.
Cheteshwar Pujara at the other end played some gorgeous shots, but the crowd kept chanting "Sachiiinnn, Sachin.” It was one last opportunity for the nation to cheer for their hero who had kept them spellbound for nearly a quarter of a Century.
Tendulakr moved to 25 with a flick past fine leg for his third boundary.
Then, as Tendulkar was batting on 33, he played the shot of the match, which showed why the nation fell in love with him. Darren Sammy pitched the ball on middle stump, and Tendulkar got onto the front foot, presented the full face of the bat, and punched it past mid on. It was barely a push, but the ball raced to the boundary.
The master blaster reached 68th test half-century of his career with another punch past mid-on for four. And, as Tendulkar raised his bat to acknowledge the crowd after reaching yet another milestone, each and everyone in the Stadium stood up to applaud the genius
Tendulkar looked at ease, unperturbed by the fact that this might be his last innings while batting and showed the world one last time his full array of shots. Tendulkar then moved into the ’70s and had thrown open the tantalizing possibility of a 52nd Test hundred.
But then, batting on 74, Narsingh Deonarine’s off spin proved to be the fatal delivery. It all happened very quickly. Tendulkar went for the cut shot, the ball bounced higher than he expected it to, and it flew to Darren Sammy at first slip.
A stunned silence accompanied what had just transpired in the middle. But then, as Tendulkar began his slow march back to the pavilion, the silence slowly turned into applause as it began to sink in that this was the last time Tendulkar was walking back to the dressing room in Indian colors.
As the master returned back to the dressing room, a banner in the crowd read “ I have seen God Departing.”
It definitely was end of an era but not before giving infinte memories to cherish and a legacy to follow.