India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni on Saturday saluted ‘role model’ Sachin Tendulkar for inspiring an entire generation of cricketers after the hosts crushed a hapless West Indies by an innings and 126 runs in the master batsman’s farewell match to complete a 2-0 series whitewash.
A teary-eyed Tendulkar bade adieu to his beloved game in his home ground at the Wankhede Stadium, bringing the curtains down on his illustrious 24-year-old career.
“I think it’s the biggest match in the cricketing history. It’s something we won’t witness again. Thank you Sachin for being such a role model for all of us. Not only as a cricketer, but the way he has led his life, he is a role model for all,” said Dhoni at the post-match presentation ceremony.
Tendulkar played the game he loved the most with dignity and left the 22-yard strip as dignified as ever.
His feverish retirement bash saw specially-minted coins, embossed with Tendulkar’s image on one side, being presented to match officials.
Tendulkar himself received a momento from Maharashtra Cricket Association president Sharad Pawar on behalf of the the Sri Lankan government, a special trophy from Star CEO Uday Shankar. He was also felicitated by Mumbai Commissioner of Police Satyapal Singh and the MCA.
Dhoni also had words of appreciation for his batsmen and bowlers for putting up an impressive show and said it was a “complete performance” from the team.
“I think it’s a complete performance from the side. It was fantastic. The batsmen batted really well and when the opportunity came the bowlers got wickets. I think there was much for spinners in Kolkata but the way (Mohammed) Shami bowled, he gave us the edge that we needed. You want that kind of individual performances to boost the morale,” he said.
A dejected West Indies skipper Darren Sammy conceded that India taught them a lesson on how to play Test cricket.
“We have to pull together and come out even stronger. It’s a reality check (for us). We came here on the back of winning six Tests but India taught us how to play Test cricket,” he said.
“I am very disappointed. We were hoping to perform much better than we played. Our batsmen can learn from Rohit (Sharma). He showed that you can score a hundred with number 11 batsman also. We can take positives from how India played,” Sammy said.
The West Indies skipper wished Tendulkar “all the best” for his post-retirement life.
“I want to wish Sachin all the best. We are quite honoured to be on the same field as him. Fans in India have set a benchmark on how to treat a hero,” he said.
Man-of-the-series Rohit Sharma said he wants to carry his good form into the challenging international tours ahead.
“I would just say that it’s the start of my career. There are plenty of challenging tours coming up. It’s a good start for me and I just want to carry on (the good work). It was important from team’s perspective to carry on my form.”
Rohit said he loved playing his part in batting legend Tendulkar’s farewell series.
“It’s a memorable Test match. There was a lot of hype around the Test but I’m happy with what we’ve achieved. We wanted to get a good lead. I would like to thank (Mohammed) Shami as well, without him I wouldn’t have reached a century,” he said.
Man-of-the-match Pragyan Ojha said he loves bowling on his “favourite” Wankhede pitch and dedicated his 10-wicket haul in the match to Tendulkar.
“It’s one of my favourite wickets. There is turn and bounce and I enjoy bowling here. I just followed my basics, kept it simple and enjoyed here. (Ravichandran) Ashwin and other bowlers did a great job. It’s a special Test match. I will remember this all my life. This is for Sachin Paaji,” he said.