By Sudipto Ganguly
MUMBAI (Reuters) - Sachin Tendulkar, the world's most prolific international run-scorer, will retire after playing his 200th test match at home against West Indies next month.
"All my life, I have had a dream of playing cricket for India. I have been living this dream every day for the last 24 years," the 40-year-old, who compiled a record 100 international centuries, said in a statement released by the Indian cricket board (BCCI) on Thursday.
"It's hard for me to imagine a life without playing cricket because it's all I have ever done since I was 11 years old.
"It's been a huge honour to have represented my country and played all over the world. I look forward to playing my 200th test match on home soil, as I call it a day."
Tendulkar, who made his debut against bitter rivals Pakistan in 1989 as a sixteen-year old, has gone on to accumulate 15,837 runs in 198 tests and 18,246 runs in 463 one-day internationals.
He played just one Twenty20 match for India against South Africa in December 2006, before retiring from the shortest format of international cricket.
Tendulkar fulfilled his long-cherished dream of winning the World Cup when India won the tournament in 2011 at home and last December he hung up his boots from the 50 overs game to make way for youngsters.
Talk of Tendulkar's retirement had polarised opinions in the cricket-mad nation and speculation was rife after the BCCI announced a two-test series at home in November against the Caribbean side.
"I thank the BCCI for everything over the years and for permitting me to move on when my heart feels it's time!" Tendulkar. "I thank my family for their patience and understanding.
"Most of all, I thank my fans and well-wishers who through their prayers and wishes have given me the strength to go out and perform at my best."
(Editing by John Mehaffey)