The hush that descended on the Wankhede Stadium here on Friday was a moment Indian cricket fans had dreaded for some time now.
As Sachin Tendulkar commenced his laborious trudge to the dressing room after a knock of 74 in the second Test against the West Indies, it must have dawned on the spectators — and the legend himself — that this could be his last Test innings.
It’s a premonition that looks likely to come true — West Indies, in its second innings, finished the second day with 43 for three, still 270 runs short of making India bat again.
Just before crossing the boundary rope, the master turned around and raised his arms in grateful salutation to the audience and walked into history.
Tendulkar, an inspiration for a generation of young cricketers and an icon who brought solace to a nation in times of distress, did not accomplish the task he had set out to. Having set great milestones and a rich legacy for the new generation to emulate, he failed to scale the peak — a century at his home ground in his farewell match. The pain was collective, though the crowd gave him a standing ovation when he departed.
Trains and buses were packed as a huge surge at Churchgate Station marked the run-up to the day’s play. The match was alive because Tendulkar was in the middle. His family was in attendance, so were friends from childhood.
There was a touch of aggression to Tendulkar’s game but also an uncharacteristic impulse to get on with the job. The anxiety was understandable since he was aware that the weaknesses of the opposition may deprive him of a second visit to the crease. He wanted to make the most of the situation and give his best one last time.
Resuming at 38, Tendulkar added 36 runs and fell in trying a cut, a farewell gift to Guyanese off-spinner Narsingh Deonarine, who will go home with the best souvenir from the best batsman India has seen.