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Sachin Tendulkar will never again be seen on the field in the blue Indian jersey. After a 23-year-long career during which he broke virtually all records worth breaking, the world's greatest ODI batsman announced his retirement from the 50-over game on Sunday.
"I have decided to retire from the one-day format of the game. I feel blessed to have fulfilled the dream of being part of a World Cup wining Indian team. The preparatory process to defend the World Cup in 2015 should begin early and in right earnest," Tendulkar said in a statement released by the BCCI.
The board said that the Mumbai maestro had spoken to BCCI president N Srinivasan and conveyed the decision. "I would like to wish the team all the very best for the future. I am eternally grateful to all my well wishers for their unconditional support and love over the years," Tendulkar added.
The decision came on the day when the selectors announced the ODI squad for the series against Pakistan, giving rise to speculation that Sachin was nudged by the board to call it a day. In fact, a BCCI source said Tendulkar wanted to play the series against Pakistan before bidding goodbye to the format. He changed his mind after getting feelers from the selectors that he won't be considered for the ODI team on the basis of his current form. BCCI, however, denied this and said it was Sachin's own decision.
The source added that Tendulkar was keen for a last duel against the Pakistanis. "It's a marquee series and no player of his stature would say no to such a contest and retire on the day when the team is announced," a source close to the team told TOI.
Sources said that two selectors — chief Sandep Patil and Roger Binny — were in constant touch with Tendulkar and discussed the issue at length with him.
The board insisted that Sachin has been contemplating retirement from ODIs for quite some time and had last week informed those close to him about his decision.
"It's been Sachin's decision to pick and choose his ODI series and today he has decided to announce his retirement on his own. There was no pressure from BCCI. He played cricket on his own terms and no one influenced his decision," a top BCCI official told TOI.
Reacting to the decision, Ratnakar Shetty, the BCCI's chief administrative officer, said: "I won't say it is a shocker because he has also been thinking about this, waiting for the right time to call it a day. Today, he has expressed his desire to retire from the one-day format, and the BCCI really respects his wishes."
A BCCI source, however, said Sachin was no longer fitting in the scheme of things in the ODIs. "One, he was picking and choosing his ODI contests which wasn't allowing the team to settle with a combination. Two, the selectors were keen to give young players more opportunities keeping the 2015 World Cup in mind," he said.
The selectors, according to sources, want Sachin to play some Ranji Trophy games before the Test series against Australia at home. "They all respect his abilities, but what is required at this level is to keep performing no matter how big you are," another source said.
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