Then, as the crowd realized it was the end of Sachin Tendulkar’s likely last bat for India, they rose and applauded and the roar only got louder as their hero briskly walked closer to his grandstand exit.
Tendulkar was dismissed for 74 by West Indies on Friday, spoiling the wishes of the full house in Wankhede Stadium and millions more TV viewers who had begun to anticipate a fairytale century in his international swansong.
But as he shaped to cut part-time offspinner Narsingh Deonarine, he only edged the delivery to lone slip Darren Sammy. West Indies’ celebrations were muted, as Tendulkar immediately turned and headed to the clubhouse, tucking his bat under his arm with grim disappointment etched on his face.
Not until he was almost to the boundary did he take off his helmet, wipe his brow, and raise his bat to acknowledge the crescendo of cheers, and let the fans’ adoration wash over him.
”He has crossed boundaries, meant something to everyone, which is why you see such outpouring of emotion,” former India captain Rahul Dravid said while commentating on television. ”He has touched the lives of so many people over the years.”
Tendulkar smashed 12 fours and faced 118 balls, playing both spin and pace with stylish ease and executing shots he has become famous for: the straight drive, cover drive and the paddle-sweep.
”It was disappointing to see him get out but he played some incredible drives,” said India allrounder Yuvraj Singh, guest commentating on TV. ”When he walked in, how everyone cheered for him, well that was just amazing to see — the love of people for him.”
There’s a chance he could bat again, but that depends on the course of the second test over the next three days.
The remarkable clamour for 40-year-old Tendulkar began before the second day’s play as he knocked the ball around in practice and spoke to Australia spin great Shane Warne, who is doing TV commentary.
People were still pouring into the stands when the greatest batsman of this generation, the holder of all the meaningful international batting records, walked onto the field of his hometown stadium to another rousing reception.
Tendulkar then resumed on 38 after an evening cameo on day one. The Little Master did not disappoint a crowd including his wheelchair-bound mother Rajni, watching him live for the first time for his 200th and last test, as he played a classic innings to immense applause and chants of ”Sachin, Sachin.”
The 40-year-old Tendulkar smashed consecutive boundaries off offspinner Shane Shillingford to set the tone for the day, cutting a short ball through point and executing a vintage paddle-sweep. On 47 he survived a big appeal for caught behind. Not long later, he hit an off drive to the boundary to raise yet another half century, the 68th of his career and first since February.
The century wasn’t to be, but he’s already given India a record 100 of those on the international stage.
While Tendulkar’s retirement is huge news in India and other parts of the cricket world, his final match was not covered by many news outlets in text or photos because of an ongoing dispute with cricket’s organizers in India.
For the past 18 months, the BCCI has prohibited certain photo-only agencies, such as Getty, from covering cricket matches. Because of that, several news agencies, including The Associated Press and Reuters, have declined to cover BCCI-run cricket events. The News Media Coalition, a consortium of news outlets including the AP, has been attempting to negotiate an agreement with the BCCI.
Many agencies covered Tendulkar’s departure from outside the stadium and on the streets of Mumbai.