On his final appearance before his retirement from cricket, Sachin Tendulkar took to the field in Mumbai to the most raucous and spine-tingling reception of his illustrious career.
Having seen India bowl out the West Indies for a measly 182 all-out on the first of this five-day Test at the Wankhede Stadium, the hosts wasted no time in getting the hammer down, scoring runs freely through openers Murali Vijay and Shikhar Dhawan much to the delight of the crowd, but there was a clear sense of impatience as they waited for their hero.
They didn’t have to wait long, as the dismissal of both Vijay and Dhawan in the 13th over brought Tendulkar to the crease for his 200th Test appearance alongside number three Cheteshwar Pujara, and he wasted no time in trying his best to hit the West Indian bowlers around the park, much to the home fans’ delight.
Never has there been such celebration for the fall of an Indian wicket, but the crowd went wild when Vijay was caught by Darren Sammy of Shane Shillingford, as they knew their favourite son was on his way to the crease.
Having been given a guard of honour by both the opposition and the match umpires, the dream nearly ended before it got going though, as the 40-year-old flicked his second ball off Shillingford towards short leg, with the ball just bouncing before it reached the fielder.
Tendulkar managed to bat out the day, scoring an entertaining 38 runs off 73 balls – although he could have remained run-less and the crowd will have enjoyed the day just as much.
He hit six four’s on his way to the close of play, and will return to the crease in the early hours of the morning to continue his attempt to register a 52 – and potentially final – century.
Former England captain Michael Vaughan wrote on Twitter of his desire to see Tendulkar bat through to the second day, eventually getting his wish as both he and Pujara saw off the final balls to return to the pavilion.
“Come on @sachin_rt ... The viewing figures tomorrow could break all records... Please be Not Out over night... #Sachin #God,” wrote the 2005 triumphant Ashes captain.
Tendulkar's wheelchair-bound mother Rajni was in attendance to watch her son for the very first time, alongside his first coach Ramakant Achrekar as well as figures from politics, sport, corporate India and Bollywood stars.
"I am really touched with #ThankYouSachin messages. Your support all these years have inspired me to give my best," Tendulkar said on Twitter on the eve of the match.
"I thank you all from the bottom of my heart for 24 years of support."
Fans could yet be disappointed though, as Tendulkar may only bat once in the match due to the low total put on the board by the West Indies, with India finishing the day on 157-2, just 25 runs behind with eight wickets in hand.