Sachin signs off from first class cricket on a high

One comment by a young spectator after Mumbai beat Haryana by four wickets in their Ranji Trophy opener at the Bansi Lal Stadium summed up the mood prevailing in the country as Sachin Tendulkar bid adieu to domestic cricket. “We were here only to watch and cheer Sachin in his last first-class game.

Sachin Tendulkar
Riding a crest: Members of the Mumbai squad carry Sachin Tendulkar on their shoulders after the Little Master guided them to a four-wicket win over Haryana in his final first-class outing at Lahli yesterday

I didn’t care whether we won or lost,” the Haryanvi boy said. And the maestro certainly did not disappoint any of his fans, anywhere in the world, as he guided the 40-time champions to a hard-fought victory with a gritty unbeaten 79.

Resuming at 201-6, still 39 runs adrift of the target on the morning of the final day’s play, the game was still wide open, but the veteran of many a bruising battle, ensured Mumbai returned home for Diwali in a happy frame of mind.

What’s more, the knock that came off 175 balls, ensured Tendulkar warmed up perfectly for next month’s two-Test series against the West Indies, which will culminate with his landmark 200th Test in Mumbai. That will also be the occasion when fans will see him for the final time in India colours.

“It was a challenging wicket. It had a lot for the bowlers but it was fun to bat on. The bowlers were getting assistance from the track so it was not easy to score runs,” Tendulkar said.

“240 was a big total to chase. The outfield was also on the slower side. 240 looked like 280 to chase on this wicket. This is just the kind of outing I was looking for. Haryana played very good cricket. All credit to them for putting up a good challenge and making it a memorable contest,” Tendulkar added.
Speaking about the forthcoming India-West Indies series, the Little Master said: “It will be a good series.

They (West Indies) are a good side, something that I’ll be looking forward to... my last couple of Test matches. I hope it produces good cricket and lives up to the expectations of all my well wishers.”

Victors delighted
In pursuit of the target, Tendulkar, overnight on 55, guided Dhawal Kulkarni (16 not out) to the last run that came when the young pacer hit Mohit Sharma for a boundary, much to the delight of his Mumbai teammates who had planned to gift the veteran a win in his last game for the city side.

The hordes of host spectators who had trooped into the stadium didn’t mind either as it was Tendulkar who was at the forefront of this successful chase.
Living their own Tendulkar moment, the heads totting the small stands fervently cheered his every run, and got an adrenaline rush when the ball reached the fence yesterday from the master’s willow. The standing ovation as he walked out to bat was followed by another round of guard of honour, with some of the Haryana players even saluting the champion batsman while he walked out to bat for one last time in domestic cricket.

Brief scores
Haryana 134 and 241 lost to Mumbai 136 and 240-6 (Sachin Tendulkar 79 not out, Kaustubh Pawar 47, Ajinkya Rahane 40, Mohit Sharma 2-79) by four wickets.

When Haryana had Mumbai in tears
Mumbai’s hard-fought win over Haryana yesterday was completely overshadowed by Sachin Tendulkar’s impending retirement. But the die-hard fans of Mumbai cricket would have heaved a sigh of relief after the victory. For, they still remember the day Haryana, led by the indomitable Kapil Dev had Dilip Vengsarkar & Co in tears when they triumphed in the 1990-91 Ranji final by two runs. Tendulkar who featured in Mumbai's line up in that contest had scored 47 and 96 while Vengsarkar had managed 139 not out in the chase. But even these performances were not sufficient to take them home! 

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