A batsman who reminded the great Sir Donald Bradman of himself, Tendulkar bows out as international cricket's top run-scorer by quite a distance in ODIs. He will, however, continue to play Tests.
At the end of his ODI journey, the 39-year-old right-hander stands on a mammoth mountain of runs – a whopping 18,426 in 463 matches at an average of 44.83. The Mumbaikar, fondly called Little Master and Master Blaster by his legion of fans all over the world, however, went through a tormenting lean pitch during the final few months in the game.
But without an iota of doubt, Tendulkar, the only batsman to score 100 international centuries -- 51 in Tests and 49 in ODIs, would be remembered as the greatest batsman to have played the game after Bradman even though his glittering career was not without its low ebbs.
He failed miserably as a captain and was bogged down by the massive responsibility of anchoring Indian batting during a time when the fall of his wicket was akin to the team folding up before the likes of Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid blossomed to take some pressure off him.
All of 16 when he made his debut against a ferocious Pakistani team that boasted of Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis, Tendulkar gave an early display of his steely resolve when he continued to bat in a blood-soaked shirt despite being hit on his face.
That resolve came to define the little man who had the world's most feared bowlers bowing in admiration of his talent and skill. His wicket remains the most cherished for all those who managed to have it against their name.
Away from cricket this year, he accomplished another feat by becoming a Rajya Sabha member and has already showed his keenness to improve the sporting scene in India.
He was woefully out of form during India's Test and ODI whitewash at the hands of England last year and carried the weight of expectations to what turned out to be a horror tour of Australia.
With an over two decade long career, records were fairly routine for Tendulkar but for the cricketing fraternity every run he scored just added to the legend that the diminutive right-hander has become.
Much before his debut on November 15, 1989, Tendulkar's precocious talent was there to be seen when he shared an unbeaten 664-run stand with buddy Vinod Kambli in the Lord Harris Shield Inter-School Game in 1988.
His first Test century came in England in 1990 at Old Trafford and the Mumbaikar rose in stature after the 1991-92 tour of Australia, hitting sublime hundreds on a Sydney turner and a Perth minefield.
The rest is history. No existing batting record seemed safe. Other than Brian Lara's Test match highest of 400 not out and first class highest score of 501 not out, every record became Tendulkars.
Tendulkar is also the only batsman in the world who has scored a double ton in ODIs, a feat he achieved in Gwalior against South Africa in February. This was included in Times magazine's top 10 sports moments of the year.
A perfect team-man, Tendulkar limited his Twenty20 ambition to the Indian Premier League, ruling himself out of national reckoning lest it upsets the existing equilibrium of the side.
The biggest compliment to his batting came from Bradman himself in 1999 when he said that Tendulkar's style of playing resembled his style. "That touch I used to feel when I batted," he had said.
Tendulkar's colossal batting exploits have completely overshadowed his utility as a part-time bowler who revelled in breakthroughs.
He was a complete enigma with the ball, sending down military medium pace, orthodox leg-break and off-spin with the guiles that often caught batsmen off their guard.
His 154 scalps in ODIs underline the fact that Tendulkar could have also staked claim to be that elusive all-rounder that India has been desperately looking for since the legendary Kapil Dev.
But shoulder problems have not allowed him to bowl as much as he and the team would have liked.
In the field, he is among the safest pair of hands in the slip and his flat throw releasing strong arm saw him manning the deep with equal aplomb. He has taken 114 catches in Test cricket and 140 in the ODIs.
The aura only grew in strength because of his impeccable demeanour, on and off the field.
Sachin Tendulkar winding down extraordinary career
(AP) Sachin Tendulkar's retirement from one-day internationals on Sunday signaled the winding-down of an extraordinary career which has established him as one of the greatest cricketers of all time and with an almost mythic status in an Indian nation besotted with the game.
Blessed with a prodigious talent, Tendulkar made his test debut at the age of 16 and went on to set a series of international batting records _ earning him the inevitable comparisons with fellow greats Don Bradman and Brian Lara in the process.
His retirement from one-dayers and likely near-term retirement from tests had become equally inevitable, though, after former teammates Rahul Dravid and V.V.S. Laxman called it a day, and made way for India's younger cricketers. With Sourav Ganguly and Anil Kumble already out of the picture, Tendulkar's gradual departure marks the end of a golden generation that helped India to excel both at home and abroad.
The Mumbai batsman's superb technique, variety of strokes and adaptability brought him no fewer than four prestigious records _ most runs in tests (15,643) and one-day internationals (18,426), along with the most centuries in tests (51) and one-day internationals (49).
In addition to the personal records, the man they call the Little Master also helped India to win the World Cup on home soil in 2011 and become the world's top-ranked test nation.
No stranger to the spotlight, Tendulkar started to make a name for himself in his mid-teens, when he scored 326 in a colossal 664-run stand with Vinod Kambli in a schools tournament.
Tendulkar later cracked centuries on his debut in all three of India's top domestic tournaments _ the Ranji Trophy, Duleep Trophy and Irani Cup. Though he was unable to repeat those feats on his international debuts, he went on to establish himself as a dependable No. 4 batsman in the test team and an aggressive opener for one-day matches.
He was handed a test debut in 1989 against a strong Pakistan side, only to be struck on the mouth by rookie pace bowler Waqar Younis. Tendulkar bled, but batted on to make his mark on the series. He quickly grew in stature in his early years as he tackled top bowlers like Wasim Akram, Allan Donald and Courtney Walsh with ease.
That his most memorable performances came against the era's best team _ Australia _ and his most remembered rivalries with that team's best bowlers _ Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath _ are a testimony to his abilities.
Tendulkar's 114 on a fiery test pitch at Perth in 1991-92 when he was still in his teens, a 155 not out in the Chennai test of 1997-98 and a host of outstanding one-day performances, including in the Coca-Cola Cup at Sharjah (1997-98) and the CB series Down Under (2007-08), made him a marked man for the Australians _ along with Laxman.
His performances in Australia in the first half of his career even drew praise from the reclusive Bradman, whose astonishing test batting average of 99.94 remains the only major cricketing peak that Tendulkar failed to scale.
“Having seen Tendulkar on the television, I was very, very struck by his technique,'' Bradman said.
“I asked my wife to have a look at him because I said, I never saw myself play but I feel that this fella is playing much the same as I used to play, by looking at him. She had a look at the television and said `yes, there is a similarity between the two'. I can't explain it _ his compactness, stroke-production technique, it all seems to gel.''
Tendulkar performed well in the Mohammad Azharuddin era of the 1990s, though India often fell short despite some stellar displays from him.
The team's fortunes changed, however, under Ganguly. A combination of the talent of Virender Sehwag, Yuvraj Singh, Zaheer Khan and Harbhajan Singh, with the proven experience of Dravid, Laxman and Kumble, all helped to turn Tendulkar's efforts into match-winning ones over the following decade. Acclaimed for his execution of the cover and straight drives early on, Tendulkar also showed his innovative side by mastering the paddle-sweep in later years.
Tendulkar also excelled against other top sides like South Africa, England and Pakistan. Then, just when many believed his firepower was waning, he became the first batsman to score a double-century in one-day cricket with 200 not out against South Africa at Gwalior in 2010.
One year later, Tendulkar's record sixth World Cup appearance culminated in a triumph on his home ground _ Mumbai's Wankhede Stadium. Pictures of him being lifted by teammates during a victory lap will remain etched in the memories of his fans around the world.
“Winning the World Cup is the proudest moment of my life. ... I couldn't control my tears of joy,'' Tendulkar was to say later.
He scored the highest number of runs by a batsman in two World Cups _ 673 in 2003, when India made the final, and 523 in 1996 when it reached the semifinals. In the victorious 2011 tournament, he was the second-highest scorer with 482, just behind Sri Lanka's Tillekaratne Dilshan (500).
His absence had been felt in the 1999 World Cup when India failed to advance from the Super Eights, losing a crucial game to Zimbabwe after Tendulkar had returned home on the death of his father. He subsequently returned to the tournament and struck a century against Kenya, but India failed to reach the knockout stages.
Tendulkar played in India's first Twenty20 international against South Africa in 2007 before asking not to be considered for the format, although he went on to spend five seasons with the Mumbai Indians in the lucrative Twenty20 Indian Premier League.
Time seemed to finally be catching up with Tendulkar as the big scores proved elusive after his country's World Cup triumph. The one bright spot came with a return to one-day cricket for the Asia Cup in 2012, when his 114 against Bangladesh completed an unprecedented century of international centuries.
Dravid, who lived in Tendulkar's shadow even though many considered him to be the better test batsman, spoke in late 2012 of his time at the crease with his illustrious teammate.
“We have scored 6,900 runs together ... and I can proudly tell my grandchildren that I batted with Sachin,'' Dravid said.They may not remember me, but they will certainly remember Sachin.''