Tendulkar eyes life after cricket
India great Sachin Tendulkar admitted it was hard to "imagine a life without playing cricket" after confirming he will end his illustrious international career after his 200th Test against West Indies next month.
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Tendulkar, who retired from one-day internationals in December last year, revealed on Thursday that the two-match series with the Windies on home soil will be his last involvement in the game as a player.
It promises to be an emotional affair for the 40-year-old, who is widely regarded as the greatest living batsman and whose record-breaking achievements in his 198 Tests and 463 ODIs arguably outweigh anyone to have ever played 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," Tendulakar said in a statement on the Board of Control for Cricket in India website.
"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.
"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."
The Little Master will bow out of the game as the only player to register 100 international centuries and his record of 15,837 runs in Tests - which is more than 2,000 more than nearest rival, fellow great Ricky Ponting - at an average of 53.86 will surely never be surpassed.
But reaching the 16,000-run landmark against the Windies will prove an alluring target for Tendulkar, who will be aiming to end his career on a high note.
BCCI president N. Srinivasan led the tributes to Tendulkar, hailing him as "the greatest cricketer India has produced".
"I have been an ardent follower and admirer of Sachin Tendulkar from the days he came to play Buchi Babu in Chennai," he said in a statement.
"He is without doubt the greatest cricketer India has produced. In fact one should really say he ranks among the top of all time great sports persons in the world. No one has served Indian cricket as Sachin has."
Former Australia bowler Shane Warne also responded to the news on Twitter.
He said: "Sachin was easily the best player over the last 20 years & will be remembered as one of the all time greats!"
Former Sri Lanka spinner Muttiah Muralitharan, who is still the leading wicket-taker in both Tests and ODIs, was also quick to pay tribute to a player with whom he had many battles over the years.
"I think it's a bad day for Indian cricket, world cricket as well," he said to cricinfo.com.
Former India captain Sourav Ganguly told NDTV: "At the age of 14, all he knew was batting and he would bat all day; the coach would actually have to pull him out of the nets.
"I think that's the reason he has been successful. It's not just the talent he was born with but what he did with it."