Sachin Tendulakar’s retirement sparked off a two-sided reaction — one of void and another of hope. Void as he bid goodbye to billions of fans and a hope that cricket will soon find its next Sachin.

Sachin Tendulkar is finally history. For millions of Indian fans, the assurance that he brought when he walked in at No. 4 in Test matches will slowly become an alien concept.

With a like-for-like replacement virtually ruled out, how effective will the young brigade be in filling the void? Who are the contenders? Let us take a look.

Virat Kohli

At least for the immediate future, Kohli looks the man who will most naturally slide into Sachin’s slot. Playing at No. 5, the 24-year-old has so far shown an admirable hunger for runs. Be it the Tests, ODIs or T20s, he has excelled in all three formats. He is perhaps the only player among the next generation to have had some success away from home too, as his 75 at Perth and 116 at Adelaide against Australia in the 2011-12 series prove.

Rohit Sharma

He is all of two Tests old, to be more precise, two innings old. But both the innings have resulted in centuries. His talent has never been in question but his attitude has beenRohit was first part of the squad in early 2010, but it has taken over three years and 100-odd ODIs for him to finally slip into white clothing. Will the 26-year-old be able to carry the onus of the Mumbai batting legacy?

Ajinkya Rahane

After having started out as an opening bat in first-class cricket, the 25-year-old Mumbai cricketer has been groomed as a middle-order batsman. With impressive first-class numbers – 5691 runs from 64 matches at an average of nearly 60 – he definitely makes a case. His solitary Test appearance came in the fourth Test against Australia earlier this year in Delhi before Rohit superseded him during the two Tests against West Indies. A sustained run is what he needs.

Ambati Rayudu

For a batsman brought up on the dust-bowls of the sub-continent, he is surprisingly not a flat-track bully. Quite adept at playing the moving ball and countering bounce, he might be an important cog in the Indian batting wheel especially when the team, in the next 16 months, tours South Africa, New Zealand, England and Australia.

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Retirement is a common phenomenon for a sportsperson. But it’s quite different when it comes to the God of cricket. It is hard to believe that the Little master has hung up his boots, the feeling is yet to sink in. I had been a die hard fan of Sachin right from the age of four and I used to watch matches exclusively for his innings. I specially admire him for his temperament as representing a country for 24 years is definitely not an easy job. In spite of serious injuries he continued to dominate the cricketing world.

I strongly feel no other player can fit into his boots. But going by records Virat Kohli has been outstanding in the past two years in all the three formats of the game. If he carries on in the same fashion he has a very good chance of equalling or maybe go past the Little master’s records.

Sharada S., Tamil Nadu Women’s Cricket Team

Sachin marks a dating divide in the cricketing calendar — Before Sachin and After Sachin. The man is the epitome of humility. He has always shown on and off the field what a better man he is. That the path of greatness takes only 22 yards was what Sachin showed in his 24-year career.

My favourite memory from childhood about Sachin is not of an innings he played or the centuries he scored. My mother would come from the kitchen and ask in the middle of a match if Sachin had got out. “If yes, then go study!” she’d say.

There is absolutely no one who can replace Sachin. There are different qualities of him that one would see in many players. He has inspired many of the young players in the current squad. But not one of them has all that makes Sachin.

Nikhil Saidharan Chendakkaar, 24, NIT graduate

It’s rare to find a player who goes beyond just playing. He was not just the world’s best batsman; he held the team together. If there’s one player who could probably match up to Sachin it has to be Virat Kohli. Virat has become a very important player for the Indian side and his batting style has definitely been a game changer to clinch victories.

Unmukht Chand, India U-19 Cricket Team

Nobody can come close to Sachin, simply because he is the God of Cricket. “In a land that thirsts for self-respect, Sachin spelled pride” — quoted in a New York Times article sums his status best! Greats like him have left a huge void and a heritage of great “batmanship” too. I think the likes of young players like Rohit Rahane, Sanju Samson, Aparajith and Vijay Zol are doing a great job of carrying this heritage forward.

Bharath Adhityan, 23, Cricket fanatic

Replace Sachin….No! Sachin can never be replaced. I mean I wish I could say this forever, but with his retirement things have changed. According to me the one player who could be the closest contender for this coveted position is Rohit Sharma. He has been dominating the domestic circuit for a while now and he will certainly do well for the Indian side.

Vijay Zol, Captain, India U-19 Cricket Team

Sachin is the only cricketer I admire. As a child, I didn’t understand cricket. I learnt more about it only after having watched him hit a sixer. I’m still not a cricket fan, but when Sachin comes out to play, you become a fan. I watched the test series only for him. I wouldn’t have otherwise. There is a kind of excitement at home when we watch Sachin bat. That excitement won’t be there anymore. But I think it’s the right time for him to retire. He has given to this country so much since he was a teenager. He deserves all these tributes. It would be cruel to ask him to keep playing.

I don’t think Sachin can be replaced. I believe it when people say God doesn’t retire.

Aswathi S., 22, MBA graduate

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