India is a cricket crazy country and the game is probably one of the greatest unifiers in this nation with a mind boggling variety of demographic as well as religious diversities.

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India is a cricket crazy country and the game is probably one of the greatest unifiers in this nation with a mind boggling variety of demographic as well as religious diversities.

It is, as the cricket fanatics call, an alternate religion for the teeming billions of the country and if cricket is a religion, then there is one “God” and that is the diminutive Mumbai master batsman and cricketer par excellence Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar.

The “God” bid farewell to cricket in an emotionally charged atmosphere at his home ground of Wankhede Stadium on 16th Nov 2013 playing his 200th test cricket match against the visiting West Indian team, after having lived and breathed cricket for nearly a quarter of a century, enthralling spectators all across the globe with his batting wizardry. In his illustrious career he played 664 international matches scoring a whopping 34357 runs with 164 half centuries and an astonishing 100 centuries, the first and only cricketer to do so.

India is a young country and the youth grew up watching their hero’s exploits on the cricketing field for 24 years. Sachin who debuted against arch cricketing rivals, Pakistan, at the tender age of 16 on November 15th 1989, went on to demolish not only opposition bowlers but also records for the next 2and a half decades.

His destructive batting put fear in bowlers the world over and the great Aussie leg spinner, one of the best ever, has even famously acknowledged that he had nightmares of Sachin Tendulkar taking him to the cleaners, clobbering sixes at will.

The fact that Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar is a maestro in his art is overwhelmingly accepted but the real awe that the man inspires is that even with glory, power, fame and unprecedented adulation, the shy middle class, down to earth humble Mumbaikar, continued to be just that, though no longer a middle class Mumbaikar but down to earth and thoroughly humble.

This reinforced the connect that he had with the masses and his final hurrah, his last swansong dripped with emotion, at his jam-packed beloved home ground, was watched by his fans from all across the world.

“ Sachin Mania” swooped on Mumbai during the final test and “Sach-Tourism” boomed. Fans thronged the stadium from countries as diverse as the UK, USA, the Caribbean, Australia besides the Indian subcontinent to name a few.

The who’s who from the political, business as well as sports and entertainment spheres were all in attendance along with the common multitude and celebrated and bowed to the genius of Tendulkar, the man who had successfully borne the burden of expectations from billions of cricket crazed fans for so many years.

Even in his final match, Sachin did not disappoint his admirers and scored a sublime superlative half century, though he missed a final century by 26 runs. When the test ended in less than 3 days, India being victors, inflicting an innings defeat on the Windies, there was more sorrow than joy among the fans. Their “God” would never ever be walking down the pitch and thumping bowlers with ease and grace, their “God” would never be scampering for runs like a bubbly teenager, their “God” would never again be bearing the burden of their expectations. They had seen their “God” last time in action and now they bid adios to their “God” with wet eyes…

But then legends never retire, they keep being with us in our hearts forever…

Thank You Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar for being the entertainer that you have been for so long and wish you all the very best for your second innings in life…….

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