So, it is finally here. The second test of the Sachin Tendulkar test series, his final one in whites, his final appearance for the country in a cricket field. It is a time for reflection, for applause and above all, for emotion. You can see the outpouring of emotion coming from all wakes of life - I have spent the past few days reading article after article from person after person whose was either directly involved with Tendulkar or whose life was immeasurably enriched by the presence of the Master in their daily life - a living deity beamed into their rooms.
At this time, I wish I were in Wankhede, waiting and getting to see the Master in play one last time. It is a visceral experience like no other – watching Tendulkar bat on his home ground. I have experienced it once. From the moment that the second wicket falls, all eyes go to the dressing room. You see a figure move, a tiny speck when seen from the distant galleries way above. The shuffle is familiar to you, the adjustment of the handguard second nature. He trudges down with a bat in his hand and the gloves not quite strapped up. As the departing batsman walks back to the pavilion, I wonder where his mind is. Is he thinking about his dismissal or are his thoughts drowned out by the chanting of a name – a single name of two syllables that becomes a cry of celebration and despair at the same time. “Sachin, Sachin”. Over and over, the voices of thousands ring that battle cry that surely has made every visiting player in India smile in wonder. The small figure crosses the boundary into the field, looks up at the sun, does a few jogs and goes into his zone. Oblivious to the burden on a billion people. He takes guard, looks around, shuffles some more and then settles into what must be the most perfectly balanced stance of all batsmen.
The miracle isn’t that he has scored more runs and centuries and played more games than any other player. The miracle is that he has done so despite the expectations placed on him. When he goes onto the ground one last time in Wankhede, I wonder what will go through his mind. Will he let himself go despite a life spent in restraint? Will he allow the world to seep in for a change rather than shut the noise out?
Tendulkar may not succeed in his last game. The odds are against him. With all this pressure, with all the hype, with all the emotion and his own divorce from the game after a quarter of a century at the highest level, the odds are certainly against him scoring big. But again, if he scores a duck, it will serve as poetic justice. Bradman would be proud. It doesn't matter. As Dhoni said, the important thing is that he enjoys his last match. We all sure will. It is a celebration of a career spent in service of the game and the country.
I won’t label myself a sentimental fellow, but I won’t be surprised if I my eyes turned misty sometime over the next five days. Thank you for all the memories, Sachin.