Sachin Tendulkar fell short of a fairytale ton in his farewell Test on Friday but the Indian batsman’s 74-run knock was embellished by a full repertoire of classy shots the ‘Little Master’ was renowned for during a sparkling 24-year career.
The packed Wankhede Stadium was jolted from euphoria to deathly silence within a second as West Indies captain Darren Sammy pouched a sharp slip catch off part-time spinner Narsingh Deonarine to bring an end to Tendulkar’s first innings knock.
Sense of disappointment and disbelief hung in the air before the crowd came to terms with the magnitude of the moment to give their favourite sporting icon a prolonged standing ovation as he returned to the pavilion at his home stadium.
“Thank you for the memories Sachin. We will miss you,” an emotional Sunil Gavaskar, former India captain and Tendulkar’s childhood hero, said from the commentary box as the batsman marched towards the changing rooms for possibly the last time.
Before his dismissal, chants of “Sachin, Sachin” reverberated around a stadium packed to its 32,000 capacity every time Tendulkar took his stance at the batting crease in the second morning session of his 200th Test match.
Resuming on 38, the most prolific run-scorer in international cricket had looked in fine form when he played a straight drive off paceman Tino Best to bring up his 68th fifty on the anniversary of his debut Test against Pakistan in 1989.
He played most of his signature strokes during the 118-ball stay at the crease, which was studded with 12 crisp boundaries, leaving former India team mate Aakash Chopra begging for more.
“Straight Drive-Check, Cover Drive-Check, Square Cut-Check, Sweep-Check… can we pl have a pull too 🙂 Greedy,” he said on his twitter feed.