Sachin Tendulkar finished off his domestic cricket career at Lahli in Haryana yesterday with a flourish — just like the way he started it for Mumbai way back in 1988 against Gujarat at the Wankhede Stadium.
In many ways, it’s like flipping through the final pages of an un-putdownable book with twists and turns, highs and lows.
Sure, Tendulkar needed this Ranji Trophy game to tune-up for his final Test series against the West Indies next month, but his overall approach and willingness to figure in domestic cricket for Mumbai over the years is commendable. This should be a lesson to other cricket stars, who shy away from playing at a lower level even when they are fit and free.
Doubtless, Tendulkar will be remembered for his runs and centuries in a sporting world where records are meant to broken. But true emulation will mean duplicating the kind of passion he had and still has for the game.
His unbeaten 79 against Haryana yesterday was scored when the game was on knife edge and he later said he “enjoyed” batting on the difficult pitch.
His innings at Lahli was not silken smooth; in fact he was probably lucky not to have been given out on Day Three. He doesn’t appear in the best of form and pundits will reckon he will be tested greatly against the West Indians in the Kolkata and Mumbai Tests. But he’ll scrap all the way and not run away. That is assured, and his preparation will be absolute. In this, he sets the finest of examples.
Tendulkar has done well. Mumbai too, who did full justice to them being 40-time Ranji Trophy champions. The city’s team won’t have their high-profile player ever again. They must embrace that challenge like Tendulkar would have.