It is all very well giving a national hero an easy one to retire on, but sport is about competition, and when that is not a priority, we must wonder. Tendulkar did recapture some of his youth on the 24th anniversary of his debut, and in the end, it was the dignity and professionalism of the Old Master which stood out on a day when two of his successors made centuries.
A brilliant catch at slip, a moment of hushed disbelief in the stadium, and a quick departure after a final wave to the adoring fans. No longing, lingering look of love. Suddenly it was over, with Deonarine becoming a trivia question of future generations, the Eric Hollies in the Tendulkar saga.
Tendulkar climbed the steps into the dressing room with the same brisk energy he always did. Time, which had stood still for a moment, rolled on; Virat Kohli came in and struck the first ball for four. The King is Dead, long live the King.
The focus was as much on the man who didn’t take Sachin’s wicket — Shane Shillingford. I have said this before and I will say it again: The off spinner has been reported for chucking before. His rehabilitation programme is complete.
And yet, and yet. His flexion may well be within the prescribed 15-degree limit (it was 17 degrees when he was reported), and every man is entitled to a second chance. But if there is the slightest doubt over his action, are the umpires sufficiently primed to report him? Chucking stopped being a cricketing problem long ago and is a political one now. At any rate, we should consider a ban on long sleeves for off spinners.
By the time you read this, India should have won again in three days, but that is hardly preparation for the tougher tests ahead — in South Africa, New Zealand and England. Batting and bowling figures get exaggerated, and the team gets an unreal sense of its own strength.
Still, the crowd got its money’s worth — two centuries and two half centuries, and an exciting last-wicket stand. So what if it was a dumbed down version of cricket they saw, with one of the teams merely making up the numbers?
. Suresh Menon is Editor, Wisden India Almanack