Tributes have flowed for India's master batsman Sachin Tendulkar after his glittering 24-year career came to a close. India defeated the West Indies in his final Test match to see the 40-year-old off on a winning note.
The farewell for "The Little Master," Sachin Tendulkar, was an emotional one. He was surrounded by teammates when India grabbed the final West Indies' wicket to clinch a home victory at Mumbai's Wankhede Stadium on Saturday. He then rushed into the pavilion while wiping away tears.
Tendulkar later returned, speaking for nearly 20 minutes before embarking on a lap of honor on the shoulders of his teammates.
He began his speech by paying tribute to his father, and went on to thank his mother; other relatives; wife, Anjali; and children, Arjun, 14, and Sara, 16.
Of his marriage, Tendulkar said it was "the best partnership" he had had.
"My life's been 22 yards for 24 years. It's hard to believe that wonderful journey is coming to an end," he said.
To the disappointment of the fans at his final Test, Tendulkar batted once - making 74 - as the West Indies crumbled to lose by an innings and 126 runs. He had forecast his retirement on October 13, electing to bring the curtain down on his career in his 200th test match.
Tendulkar retires having made 15,921 Test runs at an average of 53.78 per innings, with the last of his 51 career centuries in January 2011 in South Africa. He played 664 internationals for India across all forms of the game, and is considered the game's second-greatest batsman, behind only Australian great Donald Bradman.
Legends take in final Test
Fellow cricketing superstars Brian Lara and Shane Warne flew to Mumbai to honor Tendulkar in his swan song, with the latter generous in praise of his former rival.
"We played against each other for 20 years, but away from the cricket he's very humble, very softly spoken," Warne, a champion leg-spin bowler, told the British broadcaster Sky Sports News.
"As a cricketer, he was the best batsman I ever played against. You can look at his skills and his numbers, but it was the way he did it, with the expectation of a nation. The way he handled himself on and off the field, he was a real credit to the game, himself and India.
"Everyone will miss him. I don't think the bowlers will miss him, but the world of cricket will miss him."
Warne was not alone in his tribute of Tendulkar. International Cricket Council Chief Executive Officer David Richardson said “sporting geniuses like Sachin are a rare phenomena,” while tennis champion Roger Federer extolled Tendulkar's “remarkable career.”
Hours after his retirement, it was announced that Tendulkar would be the first sportsman to receive a Bharat Ratna - India's highest civilian honor. "Sachin Tendulkar is one of the finest examples of sportsmen we have ever had with love for the sport, humility, integrity, honesty and pure unbridled talent," Indian Sports Minister Jetendra Singh said.
ph/msh (AP, AFP, Reuters)