Mumbai: Time waits for no one but it did stand still precisely at 11:47 at Wankhede Stadium on Saturday. Sachin Tendulkar was finally saying goodbye to cricket, with never-before-seen tears on his face. The West Indies only hastened Tendulkar's swansong by some poor cricket as the Caribbeans lost by an innings and 126 runs for the second straight time in this hurriedly arranged series. But the Mumbai Test has been all about Tendulkar's farewell and it was time to say a big thank you to the 'God' of cricket for entertaining the world with 24 years of extraordinary cricket. (Also read: PMO announces Bharat Ratna for Sachin Tendulkar)
The Master Blaster finally ends with a total of 34357 runs in international cricket and 15921 runs in Tests. These numbers, in all likelihood will never be replaced. (Also see: Pics: Emotional Sachin battles past tears!)
There were already many moist eyes and choked voices on Friday after Tendulkar walked back to the pavilion scoring 74 runs. On Saturday, there must have been countless more as a visibly emotional Tendulkar walked into the shadows of folklore. He has after all been a great ambassador of the sport and touched the lives of a billion people. He has been the single biggest inspiration to Indian cricket over three generations after making his Test debut against Pakistan on November 15, 1989.
In his final appearance on the cricket field on Saturday, the quintessential team man Tendulkar walked to the middle, uprooted a stump, hugged MS Dhoni and joined his fellow players who too were clearly battling back tears as they gave a guard of honour to the maestro. It was time to bid the legend a formal goodbye as Wankhede rose on its feet and chanted "Sachiin, Sachiiin" for one last time. Their hero made it a point to thank everyone who helped him build a successful career. (Read his full message here)
Dhoni praised Tendulkar's career and spoke of his experience of having played in Sachin's farewell Test. "It was the biggest match in cricket history and one we will never witness again," said Dhoni. Opposition skipper Darren Sammy too was overawed by the occasion. "Indian fans have set a benchmark in how to treat a champion," he said at the post-match ceremony.
As Mohammad Shami scalped the final wicket, every single Tendulkar fan in the stands, and on the field, stood as one to bid adieu to Tendulkar. Today, Team India did not have eleven players - it had a billion. And the signboard at Wankhede read: You will always be remembered!
Honours for Sachin Tendulkar after the match:
* Tribute from the host broadcasters
* Tribute from the Sri Lanka government
* Tribute from Mumbai police