The final leg of the epic farewell
Match factsThursday-Monday, November 14-18, 2013
Start time 0930 local (0400 GMT)
Big PictureAfter this match, there will be no switching off the television when he gets out. No Indian fan will wait for the second India wicket to fall. There will be no standing ovations that stretch from the fall of that second wicket to the time he takes strike. Sections of crowds at grounds won't take turns in going 'Sachin, Sachin'. For after this match, Sachin Tendulkar will never play cricket for India again.
So for one last time, it is over to the ground where it all began in 1988, for Bombay against Gujarat in the Ranji Trophy. Few international cricketers get to say goodbye on their home ground, in front of home fans. In that sense, Tendulkar and Mumbai are fortunate that the parting, in the playing sense, will be at Wankhede Stadium.
Fortunate is a word MS Dhoni has used often of late. He's been asked numerous times how it was to play with Tendulkar, and he's said he has been fortunate to have done so for close to a decade. There was a cartoon recently doing the rounds with Tendulkar cradling some babies - a few of his youngest current India team-mates - while the rest of the squad stood around as grinning boys. How old, or young, each of them were when Tendulkar debuted for India is a factsheet that gets thrown around a lot. But that Mohammed Shami is younger than Tendulkar's international career is a fact that seems as astonishing each time you think about it. He's been a colossal father figure. All the India players have grown up looking up to the man.
The opponents were hastily arranged for this farewell series and were not expected to play a big role. That is exactly what West Indies did in Kolkata, folding up in three days. The last time they played at Wankhede, they produced an exciting draw with the scores tied. This match will be known in history as Tendulkar's final game, but West Indies will look to somehow miraculously ending up winning it.
Form guideIndia WWWWW (last five games, most recent first)
West Indies LWWWW
In the spotlightAll these years, Sachin Tendulkar has given the impression that he shuts himself from the expectation India heaps upon him every match. Only those very close to him, and perhaps not even them, would know what actually goes on inside the man's mind. Is it only an impression, or does he really manage to insulate himself? Over the course of this final match, however, there will be no need for all this. People will of course love it if he goes out with a big hundred, but as his career has wound down over the past fortnight, they have been happy just to watch him do what he does. Bat, field, bowl, practice, wave. There will be a different kind of pressure now. The realisation that this is it - the end of what has been routine for most of his life. How will he react to that final standing ovation? To that final guard of honour? To that final cheer?
The opposition has a man who has been almost as durable as Tendulkar. Shivnarine Chanderpaul debuted in March 1994, and will be playing his 150th Test. It is a monumental disservice to him that commentators still talk about his stance after nearly 11000 Test runs. And unlike Tendulkar, he's showed no signs that the end is approaching. He averaged close to 100 last year with three centuries. Sadly, his misfiring team is more likely to squander his legacy than build on it.
Mohammed Shami and Tino Best. One fast, the other faster. Both managed reverse swing in Kolkata. Shami had control, Best didn't. Shami had nine wickets on debut, Best had one in 17 overs. With no Kemar Roach in the squad, and an inexperienced new-ball partner at the other end again, Best will have to produce a markedly better effort than what he came up with at Eden Gardens.
Team newsIndia have little reason to change the winning combination, both debutants Shami and Rohit Sharma having performed superbly in Kolkata.
India (probable): 1 Shikhar Dhawan, 2 M Vijay, 3 Cheteshwar Pujara, 4 Sachin Tendulkar, 5 Virat Kohli, 6 Rohit Sharma, 7 MS Dhoni (capt & wk), 8 R Ashwin, 9 Bhuvneshwar Kumar, 10 Pragyan Ojha, 11 Mohammed Shami
Playing only five specialist batsmen hurt West Indies in Kolkata. The second spinner Veerasammy Permaul could not support Shane Shillingford. Will they go in for an extra batsman who can bowl a bit? West Indies have also flown in Shannon Gabriel as replacement for Roach. Sheldon Cottrell impressed in patches on debut at Eden Gardens. There is an outside possibility of West Indies playing three fast bowlers.
West Indies (probable): 1 Chris Gayle, 2 Kieran Powell, 3 Darren Bravo, 4 Marlon Samuels, 5 Shivnarine Chanderpaul, 6 Denesh Ramdin (wk), 7 Darren Sammy (capt), 8 Narsingh Deonarine/Veerasammy Permaul, 9 Shane Shillingford, 10 Sheldon Cottrell/Shannon Gabriel, 11 Tino Best
Pitch and conditionsSudhir Naik, the former India batsman and Wankhede curator, is confident that the pitch can last five days. It is expected to be much harder than the one at Eden. There is usually more bounce at Wankhede than is the norm at most Indian venues. The weather is steadily approaching what passes for winter in Mumbai. While that means pleasant mornings and slightly nippy nights, temperatures will still reach mid-thirties in the afternoons. The nearby Arabian Sea can be counted on to deliver some breeze then, and some swing.
Stats and trivia
Quotes"I'd like him to enjoy, because you can't guarantee performance."
India captain MS Dhoni reflects on the hype and expectations that have accompanied Tendulkar throughout his career.
"I am not worried about Chris. Chris is somebody that could come up on any given day, like he has done all over the world, and destroy any attack."
Darren Sammy on Chris Gayle
Abhishek Purohit is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo