This one was for Mumbai cricket. A fitting farewell gift to his teammates, here and away, in what will go into the archives as Sachin Tendulkar’s final Ranji Trophy match.
He orchestrated the climax, giving his best even when not at his best, struggling but determined, watching the winning run from the non-striker’s end and exulting in trademark style: both arms raised, greeting the dressing room and a grateful salutation towards the sky.
Mumbai, needing 39 on the final day, wrapped up the match against Haryana by four wickets, with Tendulkar and Dhawal Kulkarni seeing it through to the end.
Respectful send off
The vanquished were gracious enough, according a most respectful send off, even as the crowd gave the man a standing ovation. This was a tribute to a cricketer who had invested his loyalty in an already celebrated team, and grew to serve it with dignity.
Harshal Patel, the sprightly seamer from Haryana, troubled Tendulkar, hustling him on a couple of occasions, even evoking a false move on some.
To Tendulkar’s credit, he did not lose his composure even as the ball darted or swung to beat his bat or take an edge. He was not going to budge from his task, having set his sights on a victory that would mean a lot to Mumbai.
“To begin the season with a win is always nice,” Mumbai skipper Zaheer Khan had observed. Tendulkar ensured that it became a reality.
Tendulkar’s commitment to Mumbai cricket has long been recognised by the stalwarts from the State. It has inspired a generation of cricketers to try and emulate his zeal for training. He would land in Mumbai in the early hours and yet report for ‘nets’ within hours.
The long journey that began at the Wankhede Stadium in 1988 culminated in glory on a Wednesday morning, as he brought the curtains down on his domestic career at the Chaudhary Bansi Lal Stadium here.
Tendulkar returned to the pavilion amidst unending applause, but he did not have to walk the last few steps. The Mumbai team poured out of the dressing room, and trainer Amog Pandit carried him on his shoulders, and into history as far as Ranji Trophy was concerned.
Even as the master made his exit, the scoreboard at the ground wore a blank look. So did the stadium, suddenly a deserted venue, shorn of all the boisterous excitement over the last five days.
Mumbai cricket rejoiced in Tendulkar’s final appearance for the team. Indian cricket awaits its turn now as its most famous performer now heads to Kolkata and Mumbai for his final two Tests.
Haryana — 1st innings: 134.
Mumbai — 1st innings: 136.
Haryana — 2nd innings: 241.
Mumbai - 2nd innings: Wasim Jaffer c Saini b Patel 1, Kaustabh Pawar c Saini b Mohit 47, Ajinkya Rahane b Yadav 40, Sachin Tendulkar (not out) 79, Abhishek Nayar b Hooda 24, Aditya Tare run out 3, Hiken Shah c Jadeja b Mohit 8, Dhawal Kulkarni (not out) 16; Extras (b-6, lb-14, nb-1, w-1): 22; Total (for six wickets in 93 overs): 240
Fall of wickets: 1-1, 2-87, 3-109, 4-160, 5-167, 6-190.
Haryana bowling: Mohit Sharma 27-6-79-2, Harshal Patel 19-7-47-1, Ashish Hooda 12-4-27-1, Joginder Sharma 12-7-10-0, Sachin Rana 4-0-16-0, Jayant Yadav 19-3-41-1.