With the "Little Master" Sachin Tendulkar retiring from cricket after an unprecedented 200th international test match, tributes have been pouring in from all over the globe.
Such is the diminutive, record-breaking Indian batsman's standing in the game that he is something of a transcendent figure, who is universally loved even by fans of India's bitterest foes.
In fact, some of the warmest plaudits came from archrival Pakistan, despite the fact that it perhaps suffered more than most as a result of his batting prowess.
Pakistan's leading English-language newspapers devoted lots of column inches to the iconic sportsman.
In an editorial
titled "Unbeatable Tendulkar," the English-language "Dawn" newspaper praised the cricketer's conduct off the field:
His 100 international centuries and over 15,000 Test runs are records that are unlikely to be surpassed for many years. Tendulkar, now 40, enjoys the status of a demigod in India. It is to his credit that he never allowed success to go to his head at any point during his illustrious career, staying away from needless controversies.
"The News" daily also published an editorial on the cricketer, giving us "A Billion Reasons
Why Tendulkar Lives On:"
Athletes come, athletes go. But Sachin Tendulkar will live on. Not on the cricket pitch. That part of his life, and ours, is ending. But in a billion-plus hearts and minds. In 24 years since he first wielded his bat for India, the "Little Master," a giant of 5-foot-5, has been one of the finest ambassadors for the world's second most populous nation, their fortunes inextricably linked.
As India tested nuclear weapons in the 1990s, Tendulkar stamped his mark on world cricket with his bold, confident strokes. Tormenting bowlers far bigger than him, from nations far wealthier and better resourced than his own, on all kinds of grounds and in all conditions, Tendulkar seemed to embody the more assertive and ambitious country that India was becoming.
As the Indian economy took off -- expanding more than five-fold in the three decades that Tendulkar has been completing his hostile takeover of cricket's record books -- he earned fabulous wealth, becoming one of the highest-paid athletes in any sport.
"The Express Tribune" is another publication that was full of admiration
Over a glittering 24-year career, Tendulkar captured the imagination of the global cricketing audience like no other player, right from the very first Test he played as a 16-year-old in 1989, against Pakistan. A teenaged Tendulkar successfully faced a barrage of hostile short-pitched bowling from the likes of Imran Khan, Waqar Younis and Wasim Akram, making it quite clear to those who witnessed the battle, that here was a great in the making.
Tendulkar is rightly considered the most complete batsman of his age, possessing every shot in the book and having the ability to both, tear apart bowling attacks and to control his natural aggression to suit the needs of his team. A quick glance at the statistics he compiled over his career make for mindboggling reading: over 34,000 international runs, the only player to score 100 international centuries, as well as being the leading Test and ODI run-scorer. Adversity seemed to bring out the best in the Little Master, with some of his most memorable knocks coming when India were in dire straits or when he was trying to get back into form after a string of poor scores.
Many of Pakistan's Urdu-language newspapers also heaped praise on the retiring sportsman:
He is widely loved and respected. His fans must be sad as cricket without him will surely be poorer. -- "Insaaf"
He was a deity of cricket.
"Jang" spoke to a retired international
about Tendulkar's exalted status in cricket:
Shoaib Akhthar, a former Pakistani pacer remembers the day when he faced Tendulkar for the first time in 1999 in the Indian city of Calcutta. He said that the Pakistani captain Wasim Akram told him to get rid of Tendulkar as soon as possible. Akhthar says that he threw a yorker at Tendulkar, which send him back to the pavilion. "The crowd's reaction showed me that he was revered and was seen as an institution and not as an individual player."
Many other Pakistan cricket players also queued up to pay tribute to the man who often tormented them at the crease.
Legendary off-spin bowler Saqlain Mushtaq
, who famously pioneered the "doosra
," took more than 200 test wickets in his career. But there is one, in particular,
that he will always relish nabbing.
"There is going to be a big void because I don't think we will ever see a champion batsman like him again in cricket. There is only one Tendulkar, I don't see anyone surpassing his feats. I can say for me taking his wicket in the Chennai Test in 1999 remains my most prized wicket even today."
Former Pakistan captain Inzamam-ul-Haq joined many others
in praising Tendulkar for the manner in which he dealt with his massive popularity:
"What has impressed me the most about Tendulkar all these years is his humble and simple nature. I never saw him ever let the fame and adulation he enjoys get to his head. Whenever we played India we always knew Tendulkar was the key wicket for us it would always be a psychological blow for the Indians. His greatness is depicted in his outstanding statistics. I think it was largely due to the confidence and poise he brought to the Indian team that it had produced some many top batsmen in the modern era."
Wicketkeeper Rashid Latif recalled Tendulkar's clinical efficiency
in front of the stumps:
"I had heard a lot about him when I first played against him but what struck me was his simple nature. I don't recall a match in which I saw him being over-aggressive, brash or sledge someone. That is what makes him such a great cricketer. He uses aggression to his own benefit."
Some older players, such as batting legend Javed Miandad, remembered the immediate impact Tendulkar made when he made his international debut against Pakistan in 1989 at the tender age of 16:
"We had a fearsome pace attack in Imran [Khan], Wasim [Akram], Waqar [Younis] and Saleem Jaffer but what is still etched in memory is the way he played his first ball in test cricket. It was a very pacy delivery from Waqar and this young fellow came on the front foot to drive the ball. It was confidence personified. We all knew we would be hearing a lot about this youngster in years to come.
"He loves cricket and with his hard work, focus and commitment he has truly become an outstanding ambassador for the sport at a time when commercialism is so rampant."
Former leg-spinner Abdul Qadir described his feelings when he was famously hit for three sixes by a callow Tendulkar in his debut series:
"That was a time when I was at my best and even the best batsmen had second thoughts coming out to hit me. I remember I kept on goading him to hit me and he took the challenge and came down to strike me cleanly. It was amazing. I knew instantly this was someone special."
Many ordinary Pakistani cricket fans were also quick to express their sadness at Tendulkar's retirement.
"It's a shock to cricket that a batsman like Tendulkar is retiring. He accomplished marvelous feats during his 15-20-year career."" Shehbaz Khan, a cricket academy coach based in Lahore, told the "Times of India
"Sachin should not have retired from cricket so early," said Mohammad Adeel, a cricket fan on the streets of Karachi. "He played very well. Obviously, he has a right to decide about himself, However, we are happy that we saw him playing in our time,"
-- Coilin O'Connor and Abubakar Siddique