Mumbai special

Even at the end, Tendulkar remains deeply invested in domestic cricket.

Sachin Tendulkar's farewell to domestic cricket deviated from the perfect script in only one little detail. It was Dhawal Kulkarni and not he who hit the winning runs for Mumbai. But as Tendulkar raised his arms in triumph from the non-striker's end, the clock turned back to another Ranji Trophy season, more than a decade ago. It was April 2000, and the grounds were Mumbai's Wankhede instead of Haryana's Lahli. Mumbai had to score 486 for the first innings lead against Tamil Nadu to enter the final. Mumbai had lost their eighth wicket with 37 still to get.Incredibly, Tendulkar levelled the scores. As he pulled Thirunavukkarasu Kumaran to the midwicket boundary to take Mumbai home, he pumped his fists in a rare display of emotion. And for all the international glories he has acquired since then, that innings might be the closest to his heart.

Winning for his state has clearly been as important to Tendulkar as winning for his country. He has scored 4,797 runs for the state team, with a Bradmanesque average of 90.51. His Mumbai career has been marked by heady highs ó a century against Gujarat when he debuted as a 15-year-old, 96 runs off 75 balls at the 1991 Ranji final, though his team would lose to Haryana by two runs, and a sparkling 204 off 192 balls against Shane Warne and the touring Australians in 1998.

Tendulkar's final innings for Mumbai was quieter. Faced with a tricky chase and a slow outfield that restricted the boundaries, Tendulkar innovated. He stood outside his crease, took a middle-stump guard, manipulated the gaps and ran like a man half his age to score 30 of his runs in twos and threes. This wasn't the marauding Tendulkar of old, but it was still a Tendulkar who cared deeply for runs in domestic cricket and victories for Mumbai.

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