ABU DHABI // “What more can you say about him that has not already been said?”
That was the succinct reaction of Pakistan coach Dav Whatmore – no doubt mirrored across the world – to the news of Sachin Tendulkar’s retirement. Already the news had overshadowed his side’s low-key preparations for a two-day practice match against the UAE in Abu Dhabi.
Pakistan’s bowlers got some miles into their bodies yesterday, putting together an impressive, focused display in the heat.
Mohammad Irfan, who is likely to start in the first Test against South Africa, picked up four wickets.
Spinners Saeed Ajmal and Zulfiqar Baber snared three each as the UAE lost 13 wickets in reaching 190; more importantly, every one of Pakistan’s main bowlers got in more than 10 overs. The team later said that Ahmed Shehzad, Shan Masood and Asad Shafiq have been aded to the senior squad.
But the main event had taken place thousands of miles away in Mumbai, where Tendulkar ended speculation about his future.
He will play his last Test, a record 200th, against the West Indies next month. It is widely expected the venue would be his hometown.
Members of Pakistan’s traveling party, against whom Tendulkar played so many games, were fulsome in their praise. Moin Khan, the Pakistan manager and former wicketkeeper, was behind the stumps throughout Tendulkar’s classic 136 at Chennai.
“We got him sometimes, but he scored against us as well,” he said. “He was an example for everyone, a phenomenal figure and a phenomenal career.
“Even in the next 10 decades, nobody will be able to play as long in all formats.”
Pakistan’s captain, Misbah-ul-Haq, is a contemporary of Tendulkar in age, at least. He is almost exactly an year younger. Tensions with India have meant that Misbah did not play against Tendulkar as often as some other Pakistani players, but he was no less in awe.
“Tendulkar is such a big player and legend that the aura that he has created and the way he has played the game, nobody else has done before,” he said.
“Once he retires we’ll be missing biggest name in sport and will leave a huge gap in the game.”
DID YOU KNOW ABOUT TENDULKAR?
1) Holds the unique distinction of scoring a century on debut in Ranji Trophy, Irani Trophy and Duleep Trophy.
2) Tendulkar was a ball boy during the 1987 semi-final between India and England.
3) There are two wards in New Delhi’s Tihar Jail, one named after Tendulkar and another after Vinod Kambli. The duo shared a 664-run unbroken partnership in a school match.
4) Tendulkar was the first player to be given out by the third umpire in an international game.
5) Everyone remembers VVS Laxman (281) and Rahul Dravid’s (180) 376-run partnership against Australia in Kolkata in 2001. But Tendulkar took three wickets to trigger the collapse.
6) Tendulkar was the first without an aviation background to be awarded the honorary rank of Group Captain by the Indian Air Force.