Mumbai: Ahead of Indian batting legend Sachin Tendulkar`s final sporting appearance, young and budding cricketers on Wednesday said they hoped to emulate their hero, while honing their skills at the same ground where the master learnt his early tricks in Shivaji Park.
Tendulkar, the highest run-scorer in international cricket, will retire after playing his 200th test match against the West Indies at his home ground, the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai, on November 18.
On the dusty fields of Shivaji Park, young boys sweat it out under the sun with dreams twinkling in their eyes to represent the nation and match Tendulkar`s glory.
But some say the `little master` will remain the greatest player to ever play the gentlemen`s game.
"It is a great feeling playing on the same ground as Sachin because he was one of the greatest players and is one of the greatest players and he will continue being the greatest player of the world," said Adiyan Deshpande, a young boy.
Tendulkar, who made his debut against Pakistan in 1989 at the age of 16, has gone on to accumulate 15,847 runs in 199 tests and 18,246 runs in 463 one-day internationals.
For the coaches, Tendulkar`s achievements are monumental and would take a long time to surpass.
"All 24 years of his life, he has put it into his cricketing life. It`s a mountain. Should we call it a Himalayan mountain? He has done so much and whatever he has done, I don`t feel, don`t think also, anyone would cross that limit over in the next 25 years atleast. One has to be born, like Sachin was born," said former Mumbai left-arm spinner and coach Padmakar Shivalkar.
With only a day left before the final Test match of Tendulkar`s career begins, Mumbai is dressed with hoardings and banners honouring one of its favourite sons.
"Yes, Sachin is retiring and it is sad for people like us. I watch cricket because of Sachin and he is retiring so, it is sad," said Ranjit Dahiya, a Tendulkar fan, who has painted his image on a wall.
Tendulkar fulfilled his long-cherished dream of winning the World Cup when India won the tournament in 2011 at home and last December he hung up his boots from the 50 overs game to make way for youngsters.
No cricketer has shouldered a greater burden of expectations than Tendulkar and for many an India, the match ended whenever he got out.