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With the Indian team boasting of match-winners like Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli, Shikhar Dhawan and MS Dhoni, Sachin Tendulkar (above) will no more be under the pressure to carry his team through unlike in the 1990s. In his final Test, the Little Master has the luxury to play with a relaxed mind even as the fans burden him with expectations © AFP

As Sachin Tendulkar’s final Test is upon us, the excitement levels have gone as high as possible in Mumbai. The city’s favourite son, if not the country’s, walking out to bat one last time is definitely a moment every single Mumbaikar and Indian wants to witness. But being his landmark 200th Test and playing in his home ground could also bring added pressure. The question is — will that pressure affect him? Shrikant Shankar explains that pressure will always be there, but it should not matter to Tendulkar as this match stands for more than just numbers.

The 200th Test of a brilliant and distinguished career has finally arrived. On November 14, 2013, Sachin Tendulkar will start his last and final match for India. The place is the Wankhede Stadium in his home city of Mumbai. There is no better send-off one can hope for. He has achieved the lot — from playing all across the globe to being the highest run-scorer in world cups to winning the World Cup to being part of the best side in Test cricket and also being the highest run-scorer in Tests and One-Day Internationals (ODIs)… the list can be stretched further.

Throughout his 24-year-long international career, Tendulkar has been in the spotlight and under pressure. There were years when he was the symbol of hope for Indians when it came to batting. He carried the team for the best part of the 1990s. His burden was significantly lifted by the likes of Sourav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid, Virender Sehwag and VVS Laxman. But still he was the epitome of greatness. Now in his final few years, Tendulkar has struggled to maintain similar levels, and that is expected as he grows older by the day. But the pressure on him remains the same.

There might be relief associated after he completes his last Test, for he has seen the lows and highs in Indian cricket many-a-time. He came into a side that was in transition, he leaves a side where his departure completes another transition. The team is in as healthy a position as it ever was. What is there for him to endure more pressure? He will play at the Wankhede Stadium, but compared to other stadiums, his record at his home turf is not the best. In 10 previous Tests, he has scored only one century and averages just over 47. Not that it’s a bad average by any means, but Tendulkar’s staggering career numbers have set the bar high.

This is probably the match he will enter feeling the least pressurised in a long long time. One innings or a match will not drastically improve his records. But a century in his final outing will be remembered for as long as possible. In fact, the result of the match may not even be remembered, but Tendulkar will be. He will certainly want to go out on a high in terms of run-scoring. Everything is already set. Everyone knows where the party will be, what will be the celebrations and who will do the felicitations. It does not matter how much he scores. These things will happen anyway. There will also be a ‘Guard of honour’, victory lap, he will be chaired by his teammates and many more expected gestures.

So, everything is in place for him to go and get a big score and enthrall the audiences once more. Can that mount to unwanted pressure? It could, but for once and definitely the last time, Sachin Tendulkar will not care.

Sachin Tendulkar Retirement

(Shrikant Shankar is a writer/reporter at CricketCountry.com. Previously he has done audio commentary for various matches involving India, Indian Premier League and Champions League Twenty20 for ESPNSTAR.com. You can follow him on Twitter @Shrikant_23)