MUMBAI (TIP): The scenes were eerily similar to the night of April 2, 2011. That May 25 night saw an invasion of bleed blue at the Wankhede, after India clinched the World Cup and the players hoisted Sachin Tendulkar on their shoulders and took a lap of honour. Cut to May 26, 2013 and the Eden Gardens in Kolkata, a venue that is roughly 1033 miles to the east of Wankhede. There was another on-field invasion.
This time by men wearing indigo. Again, Tendulkar was hoisted on the shoulders by teammates. While the Indian great missed out on the chance of bidding ODIs a perfect farewell, a decision that may come to haunt him later, he wasn’t going to let go of the chance to end his T20 career on a winning note and announced that he was done with the IPL.
Mumbai Indians’ victory over the Chennai Super Kings in the final was the ideal parting gift for the former skipper and icon player of the franchise that he’s been part of for six years. “I have to face reality. I’m 40 and I had decided that this would be my last season. I’ve enjoyed six seasons with MI.
It’s been a fantastic journey. We thought our third season was the best but this one is the icing on the cake,” he told the official broadcasters in a short interview on Sunday night. Not one to complain about the late hours and frequent travelling, he listed reasons why playing in the IPL is not easy anymore. “You have to alter your body clock because matches finish after or close to midnight.
And sometimes we catch a flight at eight in the morning, making all the adjustments that are required.” These are pregnant lines by a man who till very recently swore by “age is just a number” theory and was riled whenever the media mentioned the ‘R’ word to him. Having quit ODIs in December, Tendulkar’s IPL departure is perhaps an indication that his eventual retirement is not far away.
While his glittering career has been regularly punctuated by glorious milestones, Tendulkar’s body has almost been a war zone post 1999 with injuries acting as irritating speed-breakers on the road to cricketing immortality. The latest being a tendon injury on his left wrist, which saw him retire hurt in the game against Sunrisers Hyderabad. It made him miss the last four games for his franchise, including the final. Ironically, the injury occurred immediately after he had deposited Karan Sharma into the stands named after him.
When Tendulkar burst on the scene, he established an immediate connect with the crowds because he was a little boy who could tonk big sixes. How fitting is it that the last bit of action in a format that encourages six-hitting, involved Tendulkar hitting a six.