There was an eerie sense of emptiness even as cricketers, past and present, today paid rich tributes to Sachin Tendulkar as he decided to call time on his illustrious career after playing in his landmark 200th Test next month.
Tributes poured in from across the cricketing world, complementing the batting legend for giving fans many, many cheerful moments.
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"It has left such a big hole to fill in the Indian Test batting line-up. It wouldn't be easy to replace him. See what happened after Laxman, Ganguly and Dravid retired, it would take time for the middle-order to gel," said former Indian captain Sunil Gavaskar.
"Number four position in Indian cricket has been with some of the greats. Whoever bats at number four, he is going to be under a lot of pressure and will have to live upto huge expectations," added Gavaskar.
Tendulkar, regarded as the greatest batsman in contemporary cricket, today called it quits from Test cricket after the West Indies series, bringing the curtains down on an extraordinary career spanning a marathon 24 years.
Gavaskar said he was convinced that Tendulkar would achieve greatness when he first saw him bat in the nets.
"It is hard to imagine any player in the history of the game who combines classical technique with raw aggression like the little champion does. There is not a single shot he cannot play," he said.
Another former India captain and Tendulkar's long-time teammate, Sourav Ganguly said the 40-year-old made the right decision by announcing his retirement before the start of the West Indies series.
"It's the right decision and he has done it at the right time. I am very happy that he has done it before the start of the series. I will request the people of this country to come for these Two Test matches, whether in Kolkata or Mumbai, just to show their respect to this great man," said Ganguly.
Mohammad Azharuddin, former captain and a Lok Sabha MP, said Tendulkar's decision wasn't surprising.
"It was coming for sure but I didn't have the clue as to when it was coming. But it's his decision and we must respect it. We should remember his playing career as something that always gave us joy and made us proud," he told PTI.