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Sachin Tendulkar is seriously contemplating retiring from one-day cricket after India's home engagements against Pakistan and Australia later this season, it is reliably learnt.
Tendulkar, one-day cricket's most prolific and dominant batsman, will, however, continue playing Tests and will travel to Australia in December.
Sources close to Tendulkar said he was inclined to announce his retirement on this tour but was persuaded by friends to do so at home. India are scheduled to play seven ODIs against Australia and five against Pakistan before the end of the year.
Tendulkar had, along with Rahul Dravid and Sourav Ganguly, opted out of the forthcoming World Twenty20 in South Africa.
Earlier this week, he told the Times of the toll one-day cricket was taking on his body. "I enjoy every moment I have on a cricket field, but the recovery times between games these days are difficult, especially for one-day internationals, and that's my major obstacle," he said. "It does take its toll on the body. When you are 22 or 23, you recover a lot more quickly. But at 34, it's not so easy."
His innings at The Oval on Wednesday provided evidence of that; the last few minutes saw him hobbling with cramps, barely able to run the singles and, after his dismissal, taking a long time to climb the stairs to the dressing room.
Most of that innings, though, was spent in the kind of form he has displayed through this tour, one on which he showed he'd lost little of his formidability in one-day cricket. He began with two 90s against South Africa in Ireland, helping India win the series from being one down.
Restored to the top of the order after an indifferent World Cup where he batted in the middle order, Tendulkar has allowed himself the freedom to play the strokes of his majestic youth - the majestic cover drive, the pull and the lofted drive down the ground - and runs have flowed, both consistently and quickly.
In ten innings in the series so far, he has plundered 548 runs, with four 90s, at a strike rate of 84.3. The tour also reunited him with his opening partner Sourav Ganguly, and the pair, the most prolific in the history of one-day cricket, added four more century partnerships to take their tally to 25, 16 of them for the first wicket.
Tendulkar is 34 but already has 18 years of international cricket behind him; his 140 Tests and 394 ODIs have fetched him more than 25,000 runs, the most in international cricket.
He has before him the example of Shane Warne, who gave up one-day cricket in the last stage of his career to help him play more Tests.