Sachin Tendulkar kept his emotions in check and showed his genius for one last time in front of adoring fans with an unbeaten 38 as India seized early control of his 200th and final cricket Test against the West Indies after a disciplined bowling display here today.
The 40-year-old maestro walked in to the middle amid thundering cheers from the crowd and a guard of honour from his West Indies rivals as he showed glimpses of his vintage form to remain unconquered at close of an eventful opening day of his last Test.
At stumps, India were comfortably placed at 157 for two after bundling out the hapless West Indies for a meagre 182 by tea, riding on left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha's five-wicket haul.
While Ojha (5/40) grabbed the spotlight in the first half of the day, it was the retiring legend, who held centrestage in the last session with his entire family and childhood coach Ramakant Achrekar watching from the stands.
It was an abysmal batting display by the West Indians after being put in by Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni. The Caribbeans lost eight wickets for just 89 runs in a single session much to the delight of the Wankhede crowd.
Kieran Powell (48) and Darren Bravo (29) were the only batsmen to put up a semblance of fight against the stifling line and length of the Indian bowlers, who utilised the conditions well.
India responded strongly with openers Murali Vijay (43) and Shikhar Dhawan (33) putting on 77 runs in quick time. The two were sent back by Shane Shillingford before Tendulkar and Cheteshwar Pujara (34) took control of the proceedings.
India, leading 1-0 after winning the first Test in Kolkata inside three days, were just 25 runs behind West Indies at close of play raising doubts whether the match will go the full distance.
Call him a picture of confidence or an epitome of concentration, Tendulkar was everything during his undefeated stay at the crease in which he faced 73 balls hitting six boundaries.
Not only did he look in control but also helped Pujara (34 batting) gain in confidence as they added 80 runs in an unbroken third wicket stand.
At exactly 3:33 pm, India's most loved sportsman walked down the staircase of the pavilion to the deafening applause from the near-packed Wankhede stadium with spectators on their feet after the fall of Vijay's wicket to welcome the legendary player.
He acknowledged the 'Guard of Honour'