Cricket - Tendulkar nears final Test

Sachin Tendulkar is set for an emotional farewell to international cricket when he plays his 200th and final Test against West Indies in his home city of Mumbai this week.

PA Sport
Cricket - Tendulkar walks out to guard of honour in farewell Test
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Sachin Tendulkar will end a record-breaking career in his home city of Mumbai against West Indies this week.

A nation that has become wedded to watching Tendulkar flay opposition attacks around cricket fields for 24 years is preparing to celebrate a history-breaking career that has ascented him into iconic status forever.

Tendulkar's goodbye is almost certain to overshadow everything else that happens during the Test - India need only a draw to win the two-match series - and few in the cricket-mad nation appear prepared to miss it.

A website to sell tickets this week immediately crashed amid the rush of on-line traffic and when fans were able to confirm their place inside the Wankhede Stadium all five days were sold out inside 15 hours.

India, and probably the rest of the cricket world, will hold its breath as one when Tendulkar does appear to bat under his familar dark blue helmet for the last time.

When he then does the unthinkable, and get out for the very last time, an outpouring of goodwill is certain to hit Test cricket in a manner the sport will have surely never experienced before.

Already, before a ball has been bowled, the plaudits have started to roll in.

From ex-Australia leg-spinner Shane Warne, a contemporary to match his exhaulted status, to former team-mate Rahul Dravid the lead-up to the match has centred on the 40-year-old 'Little Master'.

"There will not be another Sachin Tendulkar," Warne wrote in his Daily Telegraph column this week.

"Sachin Tendulkar was the best batsman of my generation and it will be a privilege to be in Mumbai this week to commentate on the first two days of his final Test."

Dravid added: "To bat for my life, I would probably choose Sachin."

The heavy volume and longevity of Tendulkar's runscoring has dwarfed even Dravid's own 164-Test career, as he has compiled 34,283 international runs and recorded an unprecedented 100 centuries.

If the diminutive right-hander can sign off with one more triple-figure score, it would put the seal on one of the finest careers in history, although Wankhede groundsman Sudhir Naik is not about to provide any preferrential treatment.

"I will be happy if he gets a hundred because I want that," he told ESPNcricinfo.

"I also want the century because he is our boy, Bombay boy.

"He is good enough to do it himself. He does not need my help. This wicket is good enough for batting so that might automatically help him."

Veteran West Indies batsman Shivnarine Chanderpaul is also set to celebrate a milestone in the match, when he plays his 150th Test.

The left-hander's landmark has been lost in the crush of Tendulkar stories, although even Chanperpaul admitted it was just a honour to play in Tendulkar's last game.

"It has been a privilege to be here and Sachin playing his 200th Test match," he told a press conference.

"We have watched him over the years. There is so much (to learn) playing against him.

"It is always a joy to look at him bat even though he is batting against us. There is so much you can learn from a legend like him. He is a master of batting. His art, his skill and looking at him you can learn a lot."

Of his own milestone, the 39-year-old Chanderpaul added: "It is not every day that someone gets to a 150th Test match, so it is a milestone for me. I am looking forward to it."

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