Mumbai/Nagpur/Moradabad, Nov.14 (ANI): Frenzied fans are pinning hopes on Indian cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar when he plays against West Indies in his final Test match in Mumbai.
The 40-year-old 'Little Master', will bring the curtain down on a glittering 24-year career when he plays his 200th Test match against West Indies at his home ground Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai, on Thursday and then retires.
With emotions running high in every part of the country, Tendulkar's fans celebrated in their own way to bid farewell to their cricket star.
Comparing Tendulkar to God, a fan said that he knew Sachin even before he knew what cricket was.
He also said that the man had already contributed in the world of cricket that they did not expect anything more from him.
"I have come here to see Sachin. It is his last match today so I want to wish him luck for his future. As I child, I learned about Sachin first and then came to know about cricket. Whatever Sachin will do today is good. What else can we expect from him now; he has already given a lot but a century would still be good," said a fan, Saurabh Jain.
Statistically the greatest batsman of all time, Tendulkar's greatness goes far beyond those numbers.
Despite overwhelming adulation from a country that has virtually deified him, Tendulkar has displayed the same composure at the crease in accumulating 100 international centuries as he has done off the field.
His self-discipline and controversy-free image have made him a role model for India's burgeoning youth, who are largely disillusioned with the politicians.
Children look up to him as role models and want to be Tendulkars of the coming decades.
"Sachin, all the best for your 200th test match. We want that the future sees a lot of Sachin Tendulkars, the boys who want to be like you. We want you to become our coach. All the best and the cricket you have played is unbelievable and unforgettable. But we want that you contribute more to cricket. All the best Sachin," said a young cricket aspirant, Gaurav Aggarwal.
Since announcing his decision to retire from cricket, the country of 1.2 billion people has slipped into nostalgia about its biggest sporting icon who has become part of the life of India in many ways.
The frenzy is hardly a surprise; given it will be the last chance to watch a player whose place in the batting pantheon is second only to Australian Don Bradman.
The people in northern Uttar Pradesh state are celebrating this day as a festival, with candles, celebrations, music and love.
"His time to retire has come and it is his last test match. And we, the cricket fans and freedom fighters, are trying to celebrate this occasion as a festival. Just like we light earthen lamps on Diwali, we are celebrating this as a festival. Sachin is going away from us but we will not bid him adieu with wet eyes," said another fan, Vikas Sinha.
Bradman's test average of 99.94 is nearly 40 runs ahead of any of his nearest rivals to have played at least 20 matches.
All other major run-scoring records belong to Tendulkar, who made his debut for India against Pakistan in Karachi in 1989 as a curly-haired 16-year-old.
He has scored the most runs in Tests and one-day cricket and his 51 Test centuries and 49 ODI hundreds are also records.
Tendulkar has not been in prime form for the last few years with his last Test century coming against South Africa in January 2011.
Some believe the master batsman has played on for too long and should have retired after the World Cup victory. (ANI)