Indian batting legend Sachin Tendulkar announced his retirement from One-Day International (ODI) cricket yesterday after scoring a record-breaking 49 centuries in the 50-over format.
“I have decided to retire from the one-day format of the game,” he said in a statement. “I feel blessed to have fulfilled the dream of being part of a World Cup winning Indian team (in 2011).
“I am eternally grateful to all my well-wishers for their unconditional support and love over the years.”
The 39-year-old Tendulkar, who is also the highest scorer in Tests, said he was quitting to allow the Indian selectors to build a team for the 2015 World Cup which is being held in Australia and New Zealand.
“The preparatory process to defend the World Cup in 2015 should begin early. I would like to wish the team all the very best for the future.”
Tendulkar, who has been dubbed the ‘Little Master’, made his ODI debut aged 16 in Gujranwala on a tour of Pakistan in 1989. He lasted just two deliveries before being dismissed by Waqar Younis without scoring.
But in what turned out to be his last two one-day innings, during the Asia Cup in Dhaka in March this year, he made 114 against Bangladesh to record his 100th international century and then scored 52 against Pakistan.
He played in six World Cups since 1992 and finally found success in his last appearance in the tournament when India defeated Sri Lanka in the final in Tendulkar’s home city of Mumbai on April 2, 2011.
Tendulkar was two months away from his 37th birthday when he smashed the first-ever double century in the history of one-day internationals, making an unbeaten 200 against South Africa in Gwalior in February, 2010.
It was unclear if he will continue to play Test cricket, where he has scored a record 15,645 runs in 194 matches at an average of 54.32 with 51 centuries.
Ganguly surprised by Tendulkar retirement
Meanwhile, former captain Sourav Ganguly said that he felt that Tendulkar might have played on but he supports the batting maestro’s decision.
“There was a doubt on whether he would play ODI cricket or not but I felt that he might have played the series against Pakistan,” said Ganguly. “It is surprising but he has done what he thought was right.”
Ganguly said none of the Indian national selectors could have asked Tendulkar to retire from the ODI cricket.
“I don’t think there was any pressure of selectors on him. It is his own decision. No one could have dropped him.”
Tendulkar’s announcement comes only weeks after Ricky Ponting, second only to Tendulkar in the list of highest run scorers in Test cricket, played his last match for Australia.
‘His records cannot be surpassed’
Former India skipper Krishnamachari Srikkanth said Tendulkar’s records can never be matched.
“I am surprised by his move but he is leaving ODI cricket on a high,” said Srikkanth. “I am sure he will want to leave on a high in Test cricket also. He will be looking forward to a good Test series against Australia. His records cannot be surpassed.”
Dilip Vengsarkar, another former India skipper said the retirement came as a big surprise.
“Actually I am surprised,” said Vengsarkar. “If he is continuing with international cricket (in Tests) then he should have continued with ODI also.”
“I feel blessed to have fulfilled the dream of being part of a World Cup winning Indian team. I would like to wish them all the best.”
“There was a doubt on whether he would play ODIs or not. But I am not surprised by his decision. He has done what he thought was right.”
“I am surprised by his move but he is leaving ODI cricket on a high. I am sure he will want to leave on a high in Test cricket also.”
Published in The Express Tribune, December 24th, 2012.