March 18, 2012: Sachin’s last ODI!

On this day, 2012, Sachin Tendulkar played his last ODI.

On a perfect Sunday, India took on their arch-rivals Pakistan in the Asia Cup. When these two teams lock-horns the adrenaline rush has always been high. It’s more than just a game.

Pakistan openers put India into deep trouble as they both scored hundred and Pakistan ended with 329. Things suddenly looked difficult when India lost Gambhir in the second ball of the innings. There was no Sehwag as well. India knew it wasn’t going to be easy, but they also knew with Sachin Tendulkar still there, they had a chance. The master blaster was joined by Virat Kohli.

Sachin Tendulkar smashed Umar Gul for a four and followed it up with a pull. Then both the players exchanged singles and doubles. Where Sachin was running as fast as Kohli. It looked like an answer for those who called him ‘old’. A few deliveries later, a beautiful cover drive. It was so perfect and was the answer to those who said he should retire.

The Mirpur crowd got lost in the beauty of Sachin’s batting that they forgot that Kohli was scoring runs as well. He was striking hard, played an exquisite cover drive which Sachin himself enjoyed but that shot was overshadowed by the upper-cut Sachin played minutes later. It almost looked like the bowlers ran out of options.

Misbah, visibly clueless brought Afridi into the attack. The run flow continued. He then went back to Riaz, the result was the same. Riaz’s delivery bounced less than Cheema’s so, the upper-cut was replaced by late-cut. It was delicate yet beautiful.

A few runs later, Sachin brought his fifty. A simple rise of the bat to acknowledge the crowd and Sachin went back to his duty. He was looking in great touch until he misread the doosra from Ajmal. He edged it and the ball went straight to Younis Khan. To the roaring crowd, Sachin walked back. Lesser did we know that was his last time in the ODIs for India. The game didn’t end there as Rohit Sharma accompanied Virat Kohli to help India reach the target. Rohit scored 63 while Kohli smashed 183*, his highest ODI score.

When decades back, Sachin debuted against the same team, Pakistan. Maybe, he wanted his career to take a full round.

If only we knew this would be his last ODI. Probably, Sachin wanted someone to carry the legacy or make it even better for the Indian team, and when Virat Kohli batted like a champion before Sachin, the master blaster knew that India was in safe hands and he probably would have loved to pass it on to Kohli.