'It'll be surreal when we get Sachin Tendulkar out one last time'

West IndiesWest Indian players know a thing or two about the frenzy that surrounds Sachin Tendulkar, having stopped him from scoring 100th hundred in Mumbai in 2011. (PTI)
Until yesterday, Kirk Edwards and Kieran Powell were looking forward to coming back to India in November to take part in what was to be an important Test series for their careers. Now they realise it is going to be much bigger than just a Test series; they're going to be part of history. Their names are going to appear on the scorecard of Sachin Tendulkar's 200th and final Test.

And while the whole of India will rush to the ground to bid adieu to Tendulkar, the West Indian players are looking forward to the historic farewell with equal exhilaration.

"Even the 199th will be an incredible setting, and I expect the energy to be electric. But we all know that once the flight takes off from there and we head for the last Test, India will come to a standstill for the next eight days, and all you will hear about and see is one Sachin Tendulkar," Powell says.

The left-handed opener also believes that the final send-off to Tendulkar, whenever it happens during the second Test, will be emotional. "It will be a surreal moment when we get him out for that one last time. It will be emotional not just for everyone present at the ground; the entire cricket world will feel the loss. It's been a lifetime of Sachin for most of us and his final dismissal will signal the beginning of a new era for our sport," he says.

Edwards, meanwhile, expects the atmosphere during both Tests will be 'out of this world' and reveals to have gotten a teaser of it when West Indies last played a Test at the Wankhede Stadium in 2011. That Test, which proved to be a rollercoaster ride with a nerve-wracking finish (the match was drawn with the scores level and India's last pair at the crease) also saw Tendulkar come agonisingly close to scoring his 100th international century. With Tendulkar resuming on 67, the whole of Mumbai descended upon Wankhede but Ravi Rampaul spoiled the party by dismissing him for 94.

"I will never forget how the crowd emptied in that one instant that day. There was pin-drop silence when Ravi got him out. The kind of noise and the roars I heard that morning will remain etched in my memory. Once he got out, there were many who were screaming to let him back just for those six runs. I expect it to be crazier this time. I don't think anyone else will play 200 Tests," says the attacking middle-order batsman, who scored 86 in the first innings of that match.

Powell, who too was among the runs, also remembers the Test vividly.

"Ravi was the most hated man in India that day, especially in Mumbai. And he told us about being worried to go and field near the boundary rope to face those thousands who had come to see Tendulkar's 100th century," he recalls.

Edwards also has fonder memories of the Wankhede Test based on a conversation he ended up having with Tendulkar during the course of the match.

"Sachin walked up to me and said that he enjoyed my innings and he liked the way I batted. It was an incredible moment and I was speechless. He was always a true inspiration for me but that day he showed me what true humility is," says Edwards.

While the two West Indians can't wait for the Tendulkar retirement series to commence, they insist that the legendary Indian batsman cannot expect any freebies from Darren Sammy's men, and they will make life as tough as always for him when he's in the middle.

"I am expecting the wicket to have a lot of runs in it," says Powell with a smile before adding, "Personally making a big score in that match will be special. A Sachin hundred will be a photo-finish, but I just hope we still win."

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