Sachin Tendulkar, who will play his last and 200th Test in Mumbai against the West Indies this week said playing for India has been a memorable experience.
Tendulkar announced his retirement from international cricket last month after bowing out of ODIs late 2012. The iconic Indian batsman will get to play his farewell Test from November 14 in his hometown with packed stands expected on all days. Two days ahead of the match, the Mumbai Cricket Association, honoured Tendulkar by naming its Kandivili Ground after him.
The Cricket Association of Bengal, who had hosted the first Test at the Eden Gardens last week had also gone out of its way to felicitate the Little Master with a wax statue, roses and balloons to grace Tendulkar's last appearance as a player at the Eden Gardens.
"I appreciate not just this evening but the last 24 years," said Tendulkar at a gathering in Mumbai as his teammates, the West Indies team, senior MCA officials and political bigwigs looked on.
"It felt special to read my name on the entry of the (MCA) club. It feels good as I am not used to it. I didn't expect this. It was a humbling experience. I thank MCA for this kind gesture," the 40-year-old batsman said.
It was from Mumbai that Tendulkar first sent out notice to the rest of the country that a new batting sensation was on his way to conquer the world. And it will be in Mumbai where Tendulkar bids adieu to the game he has loved all his life.
"I want to thank the MCA for making the nets available for me at any time I wanted. I just needed to make a phone call to get it.
"I had the right pitches, the right wickets to prepare myself. To play for India has been truly memorable, I think every step was different and every tour required different preparations," he said.
Tendulkar fell to an umpiring howler at the Eden Gardens for a mere 10 but he will be expected to play a solid hand for India one last time as his mother and first coach Ramakant Achrekar watch from the sidelines in the city of his birth.