Tendulkar runs down tricky target
Mumbai 136 (Rahane 51, Joginder 5-16) and 240 for 6 (Tendulkar 79*) beat Haryana 134 (Mohit 49, Nayar 4-38) and 241 (S Singh 63, Zaheer 4-62, Dabholkar 4-54) by four wickets
Sachin Tendulkar ended his domestic career in style, his fighting, controlled, unbeaten 79 guiding Mumbai to a four-wicket win over hosts Haryana in Lahli near Rohtak. Supporting him was Dhawal Kulkarni, who was born on the day Tendulkar made his Ranji Trophy and first-class debut - December 10, 1988. Mumbai did not lose any wickets on the final morning in getting the 39 runs they needed, but were made to toil for close to two hours by disciplined bowling and Ajay Jadeja's field placements.
As soon as Kulkarni straight drove the luckless Mohit Sharma and the ball trickled over the rope, Tendulkar turned around and raised his arms towards the Mumbai dressing room. The Haryana players, some of whom had saluted the man when he had walked out to bat the previous afternoon, converged to shake hands with him. There was a half-hug from former India team-mate Jadeja. The Mumbai players then mobbed Tendulkar, while the Haryana reserves also hurried to congratulate him. He was carried off the field on Mumbai shoulders, and raised his bat as a sizeable crowd joined in celebrating their favourite.
Then began a series of photograph sessions following a short chat with the official broadcaster. Everyone with access to the outfield wanted a picture taken with Sachin. Press cameramen, groundstaff, officials, ball-boys and senior police officers. Every group was obliged. Both teams lined up with Tendulkar sitting in the centre for another photo session. Some Haryana players wanted him to sign t-shirts. Some officials wanted other souvenirs to be autographed. Their demands were met as well. Tendulkar then waved one final time at the crowd that had chanted his name over four days of pulsating cricket.
Tendulkar's final domestic innings will be remembered for the composure he showed in chasing a daunting target in difficult conditions against a testing attack. After a few initial nervous moments, he was hardly flustered as he chipped away at the task.
"It was a challenging wicket. It had a lot for the bowlers. It was fun to bat on this," Tendulkar said. "Slow outfield too, so it might be 240 on paper, but it is 280 anywhere else. This is just the kind of outing I was looking for. It's fun. All about talking cricket, getting to know each other. It was all about keeping each other relaxed."
Tendulkar will end his 24-year long international career with two Tests against West Indies in Kolkata and Mumbai next month. "The West Indies series will be a good one," Tendulkar said. "Something I will be looking forward to … my last couple of Test matches. I hope it produces good cricket and lives up to the expectations of all my well-wishers."
The Chaudhry Bansi Lal Stadium amid fields in the village of Lahli was an unlikely location for Tendulkar to close his domestic career. But in the end, everything rose to the occasion. The green pitch produced exciting cricket throughout. Both teams competed hard till the end. People came in thousands every day to watch a legend for the last time. The Haryana Cricket Association manfully handled the tricky task of managing crowds for a high-profile game in a remote location. And finally, the man himself scripted a battling, victorious finish. Tendulkar thanked everyone for playing a part in his farewell.
"The Haryana side played very good cricket. They put on a very good show," Tendulkar said. "I want to thank the Haryana Cricket Association. I want to thank the security. The police did a great job. Thanks to the people of Lahli. Thank you everyone for making this match memorable for me."
Abhishek Purohit is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo