Kolkata, May 27 (IANS) Bringing the curtains down on yet another phase of his glorious career, cricketing great Sachin Tendulkar Sunday bid adieu to the Indian Premier League (IPL) at the iconic Eden Gardens, moments after his side Mumbai Indians lifted their maiden title.
"This is my last IPL. I had taken the decision before the start of the tournament," 40-year-old Tendulkar said two days after his former India teammate Rahul Dravid called it quits from the cash-rich league.
Tendulkar, who retired from ODIs in December last year, missed Sunday's final against two-time champions Chennai Super Kings due to a left wrist injury he picked up May 13 while batting against Sunrisers Hyderabad.
"I waited 21 years to win the World Cup, and six years for the IPL (trophy). It has been a great and memorable journey with the team," said Tendulkar, who got a grand send-off as he was lifted by his team mates before the customary victory lap.
There was a clamour among the Mumbai Indian players to pose for a photo with him. During the team's group photo session with the trophy, the players ensured that Tendulkar was in the centre. His wife Anjali joined in the celebrations a little later.
The best gesture came from Mumbai Indians skipper Rohit Sharma, who described the victory as the perfect farewell gift to the batting genius. "It was disappointing not to have Sachin in the last few games. Nonetheless, we are happy that we could give him the perfect farewell by winning the trophy," Sharma said.
With Mumbai winning the IPL, the opening match of the next season will be held at Wankhede.
Asked about playing his farewell match before his home crowd, Tendulkar replied: "That was very tempting. I think it's the right time for me to thank all my supporters who have been with me through thick and thin. My six years with Mumbai Indians has been a terrific journey and a great experience."
"We have to be realistic about it. This was the best season for Mumbai Indians. Before this, 2010 was the best season," he said.
Tendulkar scored 2,334 runs averaging 34.83 in 78 IPL matches. He has a strike rate of 119.81 and struck one century and 13 fifties.
"I think this is the right time to stop playing the IPL. I am 40. Got to accept it," Tendulkar added.
Tendulkar's announcement created a frenzy on social networking sites as his fans seemed heartbroken, while some urged the master batsmen to reconsider the decision.
A downcast fan wrote on Tendulkar's Facebook fan page: "No IPL without Sachin."
But there were others who wanted the master blaster to return to the 22-yard action in next year's IPL.
"I heartily request you Sachin that I want to see u in IPL 7 (sic). Hope you will play for us again," said a Mumbai Indians admirer.
Twitterati joined in too.
"Sachin Tendulkar retires From IPL. You can never retire from my heart. I will miss seeing you play," tweeted a fan.
Dravid had announced his retirement from the IPL Friday night after his side Rajasthan Royals went down to Mumbai Indians in the play-off.
A few days ago, Australian legend Adam Gilchrist also announced his decision to quit playing the tournament.