Sachin Tendulkar has announced his decision to retire from international cricket after he plays his record 200th Test against West Indies in November.
Tendulkar, who had retired from ODIs in December 2012, has been in patchy form over the last two seasons and the issue of his retirement has caused plenty of debates.
India is to play a two-Test series against the West Indies next month which would enable Tendulkar, who has already made 198 appearances, to become the first player to reach the 200 landmark. The two Tests against West Indies will be played between November 6-10 and 14-18 at yet to be named venues.
Announcing his decision, Tendulkar said that he has lived his dream for the last 24 years.
Tendulkar, who made his Test debut in 1989, also said that he found it hard to imagine life without cricket.
"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. 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," he was quoted as saying in a BCCI press release.
Tendulkar also thanked the BCCI, his family as well as his fans for their support and encouragement.
"I thank the BCCI for everything over the years and for permitting me to move on when my heart feels it's time! 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," he said in the release.
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On September 30, Bangalore Mirror claimed that senior BCCI officials had confirmed Tendulkar will be asked by board officials to step down after his 200th Test and make way for newer talent.
BCCI officials told Bangalore Mirror that the home series against West Indies has been explicitly organised for Tendulkar to reach the 200-Test landmark after which he is likely to be nudged aside. The reason for the haste on the part of the Board stems from the fact that as long as Tendulkar keeps himself available for selection, no selection committee will dare drop him, the report added.
Reports in early September had suggested that selection panel chief Sandeep Patil had spoken with Tendulkar about his much-awaited 200th Test against West Indies at home, and his future beyond. Patil, however, himself refuted the report and said he hadn’t even spoken to Tendulkar in the last 10 months, while the BCCI went on to issue a denial.
Despite the denial, it was believed that the duo did have an informal conversation, and Patil had asked Tendulkar to give the selectors a clear idea about his future career, so that they could plan accordingly.
“There was no formal conversation between Tendulkar and Patil. What actually happened is that the duo did have an informal chat and Patil just wanted Tendulkar to give the selectors an idea as to how long he wants to play for the country, as the selectors want to plan accordingly when they pick squads post the West Indies series,” a senior BCCI official told Mail Today at the time.
Tendulkar, who has scored close to 16,000 runs in Test cricket and 100 centuries in international cricket, has had a lean run over the last couple of years and critics have often asked him to hang up his boots before selectors are forced to show him the door.
He has scored only two half-centuries in the last 10 Test matches that India have played at home and his last Test hundred was in an away Test in Cape Town against South Africa in January 2011.
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