One day too many

Sachin, who ruled the ODI format for so long, bids a poignant goodbye

A decade before T20s became the bonsai beast and cricket lovers became protective about Tests, which they feared were an endangered species, ODIs were India's indulged, unparalleled religion, and Sachin Tendulkar its god. He even survived the match-fixing aftermath, and ensured that Sharjah though tainted as a venue would forever hold memories of him decimating Shane Warne in a summer that came to be known as Desert Storm. Sachin defined one-dayers, and there was no dearth of believers who gave up on the Indian cause as soon as he got out.

Sachin, India's boy wonder, batted like a wizard. The nation cried when he returned to England with a century right after his father's funeral. World Cup campaigns stayed optimistic year after year, never mind who the other 10 in the team were. Simply for his perseverance in seeing this dream through, as also for the 18,426 runs, Sachin bests Brian Lara and even Ricky Ponting, who always had fine support from his equally illustrious team-mates. Fairytales are rarely scripted as beautifully as Sachin winning the World Cup in Mumbai, beating Australia and Pakistan along the way. Happily for India, he top-scored with an 85 in the semis, though his most audacious innings against the arch-rivals remains the 75-ball 98 in 2003.

He forged two of the finest partnerships at the top first with Sourav Ganguly, India's brilliant left-right opening assault, and with Virender Sehwag, the mighty clone-and-original walking in side by side, bringing the nation endless enjoyment and a feeling of might. He could bat anywhere in the batting line-up, bowl spin and medium pace, besides being a livewire on the field. For so long, everything has seemed right with the world when Sachin is on the field.

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