'The Little Master' Part 2

I watched with joy as the West Indian batting line-up fell apart but as soon as the 9th wicket fell, my eyes became watery and I got a lump in my throat. I waited for the inevitable to happen as all sorts of ridiculous thoughts came to my mind. Finally, off a Shami in-swinger, the formidable 24-year cricketing career came to a close. As Sachin walked towards the dressing room one final time, he burst into tears and with him,cried a billion people. He had been playing the sport constantly for the past 24 years; it was difficult to imagine cricket without him. Sachin later went on to deliver a farewell speech, an emotional one indeed.

Sachin's Last Test

"I know I have met so many guys who have fasted for me, prayed for me, done so much for me.Without that life wouldn't have been like this for me. I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart and also say that time has flown by rather quickly but the memories you have left with me will always be with me forever and ever, especially "Sachin,Sachin" which will reverberate in my ears till I stop breathing. Thank you very much. If I have missed out on saying something, I hope you understand. Goodbye."

These were the very words the legend used to end his farewell speech, which made even an impassive person weep. He acknowledged the Wankhede crowd and his fans around the world,for their support and well wishes. After the stirring speech, it was time for a 'farewell' lap around the ground. Kohli and Dhoni hauled him up on their shoulders. The Wankhede was where his cricketing career began and here is where it ended.The lap of honour around Wankhede reminded me of the 2011 Cricket World Cup final at the end of which Sachin was carried around the same ground. Kohli had said, "He has carried the burden of the nation for 21 years. It is time we carried him on our shoulders." What a fitting gesture it was! Recollecting this,I cried. Sachin had himself said, after the victorious world cup campaign that the victory was the proudest moment of his life. He amassed 482 runs from 9 matches in the World Cup ending the tournament as the 2nd highest run-getter. He played a huge role in taking India to victory in the tournament.

Though the legend has retired from the game, he won't ever retire from our hearts. As the saying goes, 'Legends never retire'. He has entertained one and all with his brilliant stroke-play and unmatched skill. Talking about stroke-play, the strokes Sachin played against South-Africa in Gwalior on 24th February, 2010 were majestic and mind-boggling.What the spectators witnessed was the first ever ODI 200 in the history of the game.

Sachin Tendulkar became the first batsman to make a 100 international centuries, getting to the milestone against Bangladesh at the Sher-e-Bangla stadium in Mirpur at 5:05pm on March 16,2012. It ended a year-long wait for one of the most discussed landmarks in cricket history. He reached the 100th hundred with a nudge behind square leg, one of his favoured strokes.

His playing career might be over but may be, it would be the beginning of his career as a commentator. We do hear the retired legends such as Rahul Dravid, Sourav Ganguly, Matthew Hayden, Shane Warne etc. giving their expert views and opinions regarding the game and hopefully Sachin will be there with his expert comments too. Its hard to imagine cricket without Sachin but its harder to imagine Sachin without cricket. He has devoted 24 years of his life to cricket, sacrificing a lot along the way. His passion for the game is infinite. He was, he is and he always will be the GREATEST cricketer of all time.

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