Sachin Tendulkar: Indian media reaction as 'Little Master' retires
Watching cricket will never be the same for millions of fans across the world after legendary Indian batsman Sachin Tendulkar plays his final and 200th Test match in November.
The right-hander's decision to retire from all cricket after the upcoming series against West Indies was not unexpected, but it still took a while to accept that the "god of cricket" will not play for India after he appears in his final match.
And as the realisation begins to sink in, it is time to pay tribute to one of the greatest players in the history of cricket.
But then what is the best way to mark the retirement of a man who has carried the hopes of millions for more than two decades?
Newspapers and experts, too, seem to be grappling with the same question.
Pradeep Magazine, one of India's best cricket writers, says it would be "pointless here to delve in detail about his genius, which even otherwise would be impossible to describe in words".
When verse and prose fail to match the achievements of a genius - it is best to deliver the message in a simple way.
And the message from Indian newspapers to India is simple and clear: Let them say you lived in the times of Sachin Tendulkar but accept that his era is coming to an end.
"There will never be another you," is how a front-page banner headline in the Hindustan Times sums up the country's sombre mood.
The legend has enthralled cricket fans all over the world with his elegant cover drives, smashing square cuts and a straight drive that matched the precision of a master craftsman.
Tendulkar's artistry on the cricket field will remain etched in his fans' collective memory, but they must, rather reluctantly, get ready for a life without him.
"The trouble we will face is to see cricket with Tendulkar permanently missing... With Sachin's retirement, a special, long stretch of cricket will now come to an end," writes Indrajit Hazra in the Hindustan Times .
And Hazra is not alone is feeling that the world around him has changed.
The Hindu too says the world, as we knew it for close to 25 years, has changed forever after the master batsman's retirement from all forms of the game.
"When Tendulkar leaves, his absence will be as keenly felt in spheres of the game quite removed from its run-making aspect," says the Indian Express .
Tendulkar's retirement also marks an end of the "fantastic four" batting line-up that included two former captains in elegant left-hander Sourav Ganguly and gritty number three Rahul Dravid, as well as the free-scoring VVS Laxman.
The quartet earned India many memorable wins at home and abroad and also inspired the current generation of cricketers, including skipper Mahendra Dhoni and Yuvraj Singh.
"Everyone adores Sachin, the cricketer, but for me personally, having played with him for almost 16 years, I feel really privileged and honoured to have known him so closely," Laxman told an Indian TV channel.
Ganguly still seems enamoured with his colleague's achievements.
"It is impossible to emulate his feats. They are so enormous that he will be talked about as long as cricket is played anywhere in the world," he says.
How does Tendulkar handles the pressure of expectations and love from one billion people? And how does he manages to stay normal when his regular morning walk has the potential of causing a stampede in any Indian city?
A natural answer would be that he earns his fans' admiration by winning matches for India. But that may be just oversimplification.
There is more behind the astonishing success of the maestro.
Many cricket pundits say its his mental strength and his ability to stay humble under a massive media spotlight and the glitz of modern-day cricket.
"He has been the sage voice in the dressing room... Tendulkar was, in a way, Indian cricket's first celebrity. Largely staying away from controversy despite the singeing effects of media scrutiny, something that only increased in intensity towards the autumn of his career," says the Indian Express.
Another paper says Tendulkar is not the only legend of the game, but others did not have to withstand the constant scrutiny of of fans, and that too for 24 long years.
And whole of India and the world will be watching this champion when he takes a bow in his home city of Mumbai in November.
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