Has Tendulkar played his last international match in India?
New Delhi: There was a certain buzz as Sachin Tendulkar walked to the wicket on a Sunday afternoon; nobody was saying it loudly but on the minds of thousands of adoring fans there was a question - has the batting maestro played his last international match in India?
For 24 years over 198 Tests, 463 ODIs and a single T20 match, every time he has come out to bat or made his way back to the pavilion he has been cheered in virtually every single cricket ground in the world. Therefore, the applause he got on Sunday in the final moments of the final Test against Australia was not unusual.
But there was little doubt that the day was different as the diminutive Master-Blaster emerged from the pavilion, turned his head to look into the sun and slowly made his way to the wicket with India needing 32 runs for a historic 4-0 sweep against Australia. Was it his last Test innings on the Indian soil?
Many would have hoped that he would hit the winning runs. But that was not to be as Tendulkar lasted only five balls, falling leg before to Nathan Lyon for one run.
A hush fell on the ground but as he made his lonely walk back to the dressing room the crowd suddenly was on its feet and cheered him again.
Exactly a month from Sunday, Tendulkar will turn 40. There is little doubt that his reflexes have slowed in the last couple of years. There have been too many failures against fast bowlers in England and Australia and even against spinners at home by the lofty standards he has set for himself.
There are flashes of brilliance as in the first Test against Australia at Chennai last month when he played a solid knock of 81. But he has never gone past 50 subsequently and his average for the series is 32.
Given India's cricket calendar, the next home Test will be in mid-2014 when Tendulkar would be past 41. Prior to that the Indian team is scheduled to travel to South Africa this December followed by a tour of New Zealand in early 2014.
Sachin Tendulkar announced his retirement from international cricket after playing his 200th Test in the home series against the West Indies next month.
Date 09-10-13, Duration 0:40, Views 19940