Sachin Tendulkar failed with the bat but still ended a World Cup-winner for the first time on Saturday as India defeated Sri Lanka by six wickets in the final.
Many fans in a capacity 33,000 crowd had piled into the Wankhede Stadium hoping to see the 37-year-old Tendulkar, on his home ground, score his hundredth international hundred.
But instead the star batsman, bidding to fulfil a lifelong ambition by winning the World Cup at his sixth — and in all likelihood last — attempt, was dismissed for just 18.
Tendulkar walked off to the kind of standing ovation usually reserved for batsmen who've scored far more than 18, in what was a recognition of his previous great deeds rather than this innings.
Tendulkar later said he could not hold back his tears. “I couldn't have asked for more,” said Tendulkar, as his teammates carried him on their shoulders for a victory lap before adoring fans at the Wankhede Satdium.
“Winning the World Cup is the ultimate thing. It is the proudest moment of my life. It shows it is never too late,” he said referrring to India's wait for 28 years for the coveted crown. “I thank my teammates who were fabulous. I could not really hold back my tears. These are happy tears so I don't mind crying.”
India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni said Tendulkar was “made by God just to play cricket”. “When God made Tendulkar, he made him just to play cricket,” Dhoni said.
“From the very first ball he ever faced on the international scene, he has looked at giving his 100 per cent. Players have come and players have gone, but Tendulkar has just grown from strength to strength.”
Asked what set Tendulkar apart, Dhoni replied: “It definitely has to be his level of dedication towards the game and the intensity with which he has played for the last 21 years.
“Even today, he takes every training session seriously. He would much rather not turn up for training than joke around once on the ground. He doesn't leave anything for tomorrow.”
The captain jokingly added: “We are blessed that he is a genius.
“The two or three-hour training sessions that we have are enough to correct his mistakes else we might have been stranded on the ground forever.” — Agencies