For all things, it will be Tendulkar's Test

Mumbai, No Nov 13 (IANS) A little over two years and seven months after witnessing the ecstasy of India's World Cup triumph, Mumbai's Wankhede Stadium here will be the scene for another milestone in Indian cricket, hosting batting great Sachin Tendulkar's 200th and farewell Test match against the West Indies beginning Thursday.

Perhaps, never in the history of the game has any cricketer's swansong series or farewell match generated such frenzy, so much that the cricketing rivalry between the Calypso charmers and the subcontinental giants has been reduced to a sideshow.

In his 199th Test at the Eden Gardens, Tendulkar fans had a heartbreak as he managed just 10 before getting out to a contentious decision. He didn't get a chance to bat in the second innings as India thrashed the West Indies by an innings and 51 runs.

Though, the master blaster himself would have been mighty pleased to see another Mumbaikar Rohit Sharma taking the centrestage in Kolkata. In his debut Test, Rohit smashed a brilliant 177 to carry on from a memorable ODI series against Australia last month.

Ravichandran Ashwin, too, was a key contributor to India's big win, notching his second Test hundred. The off-spinner also took five wickets in the match to become the No.1 all-rounder in the International Cricket Council (ICC) rankings.

India can now rely on the Tamil Nadu player as a batsman of substance at No.8 to follow his skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni.

In bowling, pacer Mohammed Shami returned the best by a pacer with his nine-wicket match haul.

On the other hand, it seemed the West Indies team is here just to take part in the farewell celebrations for Tendulkar and incidentally to play a short series.

The batting form of the visitors will have to improve drastically if they are to pose any challenge to the rampant Indian side. Off-spinner Shane Shillingford was the only saving grace, taking six wickets, dismissing the likes of Sachin Tendulkar, Murali Vijay, Virat Kohli and Shikhar Dhawan.

For the 40-year-old Tendulkar, his home town venue would be most apt to end his fairytale journey of 24 long yeass. It was in this city that he played most of his formative years' cricket, rose to stardom, reinvented himself after being dubbed 'Endulkar' and finally realised his childhood dream of winning the World Cup in 2011.

Seeing India lifting the 2011 World Cup on a mild summer day on April 2, Tendulkar couldn't control his emotions and tears rolled down his cheeks as he took the victory lap with his two kids, Sara and Arjun, in tow along with his teammates.

Similar scenes could be seen when he finally goes round the stadium in a thanksgiving, but before that Tendulkar would like to bow out in style, on a high, something he couldn't when he announced his retirement last year in December from the ODIs.

Tendulkar's retirement from ODIs sparked off speculation whether he would be following it up by quitting Test cricket too sooner than later.

He was expected to play his 200th Test in South Africa, but he has apparently made a request that he would like to end his career in front of his supporters at home and a short series against the West Indies, comprising two Tests and three ODIs, was hurriedly arranged.

Tendulkar has an excellent first class record at Wankhede, but not much when it comes to Tests.

In 33 first-class matches, Tendulkar has 3,534 runs with his highest being 233 not out against Tamil Nadu. But in 10 Tests that he has played here, the right-hander has got 847 runs, highest being 148 (against Sri Lanka in 1996-97), at an average of 47.05, a far cry from his impressive record at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore or Chennai's M.A. Chidambaram Stadium.

However, it was Tendulkar's choice to play at the Wankhede, considering the ill health of his mother Rajni and his coach Ramakant Achrekar as both wanted to see him play one last time, his mother would be doing the only time.

In his last two Tests at the Wankhede, Tendulkar had scores of 94 and three when the West Indies visited in November 2011 and eight in both the innings against England in November last year.

Tendulkar's highest this year has been 81 in the first innings in India's eight-wicket win over Australia in Chennai earlier this year. The master blaster is 153 runs short of getting 16,000 Test runs and a 52nd century would be the perfect end to his illustrious innings.


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