Sachin Tendulkar

Sachin Tendulkar will play his penultimate Test at the Eden Gardens © Getty Images

By Prakash Govindasreenivasan

As Sachin Tendulkar gears up to take the field for the final two Tests of his 24-year long career, a majority of fans in the country will start running helter-skelter to get their hands on tickets. The Board of Control for Cricket in India’s (BCCI) big wigs will take the best seats in the house, veteran cricketers will make their presence felt with heartfelt tributes and interesting anecdotes and thousands will occupy the stands in the hope to experience the epilogue of Tendulkar’s well-documented and vastly celebrated international career.

India has painfully let go of a few stars before, but none will match up to what can be expected at the Eden Gardens as well as the Wankhede Stadium next month. Former skipper Sourav Ganguly’s final Test came in Nagpur. Ganguly may have walked out to standing ovations and spent an emotional final few moments in the middle, the fan fare was not built up the way it is being carried out for Tendulkar.

Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who was captaining the side in the game, showed a great gesture by letting Ganguly lead the side for a few minutes on the final day of the game which India won by 172 runs.

Rahul Dravid never quite had a farewell Test. Much like his entire career, his end too was without too much fan fare. He came; he worked mighty hard, pleased the connoisseurs of the game to no bounds and left after a poor run of form. Following India’s shambolic showing in England and Australia, Dravid called it a day. He was the only bright spot in the England series, but having been susceptible to the pace and swing that the Australian bowlers generated in 2011, he decided it was time to make way for a youngster. The gentleman that he was, he quietly stepped aside and let the queue moving.

VVS Laxman too did not watch get the opportunity to witness a guard of honour or any on-field gesture for that manner to commemorate his achievements and contributions as one of the most classical and elegant batsmen to have occupied a spot in the famed Indian middle-order in Tests. His last game too was the final Test against Australia at Adelaide in 2012, but his retirement came under a little bit of a controversy. Months after expressing that he was fit and raring to go for the home series against New Zealand, he came out and announced his decision to retire. Reports said there was relentless pressure from the board that he was probably blocking a youngster’s spot. There were also speculations that the board offered him a farewell Test in front of his home ground in Hyderabad as the first of the two Tests against New Zealand. However, he politely declined and called it a day right before the series.

Anil Kumble was fortunate to get a good farewell, being carried around the Delhi’s Feroz Shah Kotla after the third Test against Australia in 2008. He also did not get to bow out in front of his home fans.

As far as Tendulkar is concerned, multiple rules have been relaxed with respect to rotation of stadiums for Test cricket in India. To accommodate Tendulkar’s final two games, two of the premier venues — Wankhede and Eden Gardens — have been roped in.

The Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) will leave no stone unturned to make Tendulkar’s penultimate game a once-in-a-lifetime experience for the emotional fans. Talks of making it special began days before the schedule was announced.  The latest in the updates leading up to Tendulkar’s 199th Test in Kolkata has been the request from the board to allow printing the batting maestro’s image on tickets to give fans a memorabilia to take away from his final appearance in the city of joy. Furthermore, the fans are also expected to be handed Tendulkar masks to wear on.

When action next shifts the Wankhede, the efforts are going to be on a much larger scale. The Mumbai Cricket Association will make grand arrangements for the special occasions. The red carpets will be rolled out, the stands will be filled to the brim and the noise levels when Tendulkar walks out for one last time will reach its peak. Emotions may run high but Tendulkar’s milestone Test will be celebrated like a carnival.

The fan painted in India colours all over his body will wave the country’s flag in joy again, the chants of ‘Sachin…Sachin’ will grow in decibel level with each passing moment again, and the crowd will erupt with joy at the slightest involvement of the champion player’s in the game again.

Perhaps, for one last time.

(Prakash Govindasreenivasan is a reporter with CricketCountry. His Twitter handle is @PrakashG_89)

Sachin Tendulkar Retirement