Mumbai - Indian cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar wept as he left the pitch for
the final time on Saturday after his 200th Test match, ending a
dazzling career spanning nearly a quarter of a century.
batsman, who has god-like popularity across India, waved to thousands
of cheering, emotional fans and wiped tears from his eyes as he left the
field through a guard of honour formed by his teammates at Mumbai's
At the age of 40, Tendulkar is retiring from the
game as the world's leading scorer in both Test and one-day cricket and
the only man to score 100 international centuries.
In a lengthy
and poignant speech on the field after the match against the West Indies
in his hometown, Tendulkar thanked everyone who had supported him, from
family members and friends, coaches and managers through to teammates
and ardent fans.
He began by paying tribute to his father who
passed away in 1999, saying that "without his guidance I don't think I
would be standing in front of you".
The cricketer thanked his
mother and other relatives individually, prompting tears from his wife
Anjali as he praised her and his "two precious diamonds" -- their son
Arjun, 14, and daughter Sara, 16 -- who stood close by as he spoke.
his marriage to Anjali "the best partnership I've had in my life", he
promised his children "the next 16 years and beyond, everything is for
"I know there are so many guys who've fasted for me, prayed
for me, done all sorts of things for me. Without all that life wouldn't
have been like this for me," he told the teary-eyed crowds in comments
broadcast on Indian television.
"I want to thank you from the
bottom of my heart and say that time has gone by rather quickly, but the
memories that you've left with me will always be with me forever and
He said the chanting of "Sachin! Sachin!" would
"reverberate in my ears until I stop breathing", prompting deafening
shouts of his name from spectators.
Tendulkar was then hoisted on to his teammates' shoulders for a victory lap around the field, waving a giant Indian flag.
after the match he was chosen for India's highest civilian award, the
Bharat Ratna, in an announcement from the president's office, making him
the first sportsperson to receive the honour.
disappointment of his followers, the "Little Master" only batted for one
innings during his last match, failing to clinch a fairytale final
century when he was out for 74 on Friday.
His dismissal was met
with a stunned silence followed by a standing ovation from the crowd,
who had greeted his every run with thundering cheers.
nevertheless praised his last performance, which included 12 well-timed
boundaries to remind them of the best that Tendulkar has produced since
his international debut in 1989 at the age of 16.
"His 74 runs
captured all we have come to love and celebrate about him," said a piece
in the Hindustan Times daily, with the headline: "Thank you, thank you,
"A billion dreams end," said the Times of India.
his glittering career, Tendulkar gained a reputation for humility and
integrity in a country where public figures are often tarred by
He told his Indian teammates that he believed they
would "continue to serve the nation in the right spirit, with the right
"Each generation gets the opportunity to merely take care of this sport and serve it to the best of our ability," he added.
failed to score a Test century in the last 40 innings of his career,
with the final of his 51 Test tons coming nearly three years ago in
January 2011 against South Africa.
His declining powers in recent
years had led some to suggest he should have retired earlier, but such
criticism failed to dent his superstar status among India's 1.2 billion
Tendulkar's wheelchair-bound mother, Rajni, watched him
bat in person for the first time at his final match, after a special
ramp was built for her at Wankhede. She had previously worried that her
presence may bring her son bad luck.
Cricketing greats Brian Lara
and Shane Warne flew in to join Indian politicians, businessmen and
Bollywood stars at the stadium to witness Tendulkar's swansong.