It’s going to be a gradual goodbye from Sachin Tendulkar, as he’s retired from the one-day game, presumably in the hope of prolonging his Test career.
When I reflect on Tendulkar’s ODI career it’s hard to go past his back-to-back hundreds against Australia in Sharjah in April 1998. With the final of the triangular tournament to be played on the 24th (the day before Anzac Day) and India facing a huge target in the penultimate match just to oust New Zealand from that upcoming encounter, television entrepreneur Mark Mascarenhas asked me who I thought would make the final?
Deset storm: Sachin Tendulkar in a celebratory mood after beating the Australians at Sharjah in 1998. Pic/MiD DAY Archives
“It’ll be the Anzacs (Australia and New Zealand) playing on Anzac Day eve,” I replied. Tendulkar made a nonsense of that prediction by playing one of his best knocks. He blasted the Australians, scoring at better than a run a ball by attacking at every opportunity. One of his five sixes, a flat pull shot off Michael Kasprowicz disappeared into the stands like a launched missile and his savage assault ensured India reached the target of qualifying for the final.
However, true to his competitive spirit Tendulkar continued to play with only one objective in mind; to win the match. In the end he was denied but he took his revenge in the final, again scoring a better than a run-a-ball hundred off the same attack and this time guiding his team to the trophy. It was Tendulkar at his best; in prime form and not about to be denied by any bowler, Shane Warne included.
Undoubtedly his crowning personal moment was becoming the first man to score a double century in an ODI. He’d given warning with a brilliant 175 against Australia in late 2009 only to improve on that by going one better in thrashing a strong South African attack three months later.
While these innings would’ve given him great personal satisfaction he, not surprisingly, ranked India’s World Cup victory in 2011 as his proudest moment. That couldn’t have been far ahead of winning the 2008 ODI trophy in Australia where he played two monumental back-to-back innings in the finals series to help crush the home side. Tendulkar didn’t choose the World Cup victory in his hometown of Mumbai as the right time to retire. He’s now decided to prolong his Test career by reducing his short form cricket to just IPL duties.
This may be a misguided strategy as he’s been virtually out of ODI cricket, having not played any for nine months. Tendulkar’s gradual withdrawal from cricket is an indication of how difficult it is for him to stop playing a game he loves. It’ll have to end sometime, hopefully before he’s left it too late.