Prior to the 1980s and 1990s, India rarely, if ever, bestrode the cricketing world like it does today. With little skill, it was known more for its individual performances than matches won, and with a nascent economy, the Indian “market” was, well, pretty small compared to the tiny English behemoth. Yet during the 1989-1991 era, two very notable but not-so-inevitable things occurred. Narasimha Rao was pushed into ram-shackling the statist economy, and Sachin Tendulkar debuted as a curly-haired 16-year-old in a test against Pakistan. What followed was an interesting fusion of cricketing genius and a general boom that shot India towards the forefront of international cricket, in practically every sense—highest paid players, biggest market, the most passionate market, and a World Cup.
Along with India’s economy, Sachin became a legend. Taking off with his first ODI century against Australia in Colombo in 1994, the master blaster went on to become the highest run scorer for both the 1996 World Cup and 2003 World Cup, and even hit a 200 not-out against South Africa in 2010. His partnerships with the likes of Ganguly, Dravid and Sehwag—he holds an ODI partnership record of 331 runs with Dravid—proved formidable. The journey had to culminate in the 2011 World Cup victory, where Sachin was also the second-highest run-scorer. All in all, this glittering ODI career comprised, at 18,426 and 49, a record number of runs and centuries scored, respectively. Meanwhile, India, in many ways, became the centre of cricket and India versus Pakistan the new Ashes.
Now, amidst declining performance, the little master finally retires from playing ODIs, and will soon retire from international cricket altogether. Besides countless records and awards, his legacy amounts to being the parcel, the overseer, the contributor and the symbol of Indian cricket’s rise. They say, he is at his best when playing an ODI against Pakistan. We, along with millions of fans, will miss him in Bangalore today.