Bringing the curtains down on yet another phase of his glorious career, cricketing great Sachin Tendulkar Sunday bid adieu to the Indian Premier League at the iconic Eden Gardens, moments after his side Mumbai Indians lifted their maiden title.
"This is my last IPL. I had taken the decision before the start of the tournament," the 40-year-old Tendulkar said in a matter of fact way, two days after his illustrious former India teammate Rahul Dravid called it quits from the cash-rich league.
Tendulkar, who retired from ODIs in December last year, missed Sunday's final against two-time champions Chennai Super Kings due to a left wrist injury he picked up May 13 while batting against Sunrisers Hyderabad.
"I have waited 21 years to win the first World Cup and six years for the IPL. It has been a great and memorable journey with the team," said Tendulkar, who got a grand send-off as he was lifted by his team mates before the customary victory lap.
There was a clamour among the Mumbai Indian players to pose for a photo with him. During the team's group photo session with the trophy, the players ensured that Tendulkar was at the centre. His wife Anjali too joined in the celebrations a little later.
But the best gesture came from Mumbai Indians skipper Rohit Sharma, who described the victory as the perfect farewell gift to the batting genius.
"It was disappointing not to have Sachin in the last few games. Nonetheless, we are happy that we could give him the perfect farewell by winning the trophy," Sharma said.
Tendulkar was all smiles, but also a trifle nostalgic. He did not forget his countless admirers.
"This is the perfect time to say thank you to my supporters and well-wishers," said Tendulkar.
"We have to be realistic about it. I've played six seasons with the Mumbai Indians and I have completely enjoyed it. This was the best season for Mumbai Indians. Before this, 2010 was the best season," he said.
Tendulkar scored 2,334 runs averaging 34.83 in 78 IPL matches. He has a strike rate of 119.81 and struck one century and 13 fifties.
"I think this is the right time to stop playing the IPL. I am 40. Got to accept it," Tendulkar added.
Friday night, Dravid had announced his retirement from the IPL after his side Rajasthan Royals went down to Mumbai Indians in the play-off.
A few days ago, Australian legend Adam Gilchrist also announced his decision to quit playing the tournament.