Sachin Tendulkar received a warm but chaotic welcome with a few hundred fans gathering outside the airport to get glimpse of the iconic cricketer as he reached the city for his 199th and penultimate Test match scheduled to be played against West Indies from November 6.
As the news of his 8.40pm arrival spread,suddenly about 300-odd crowd chanting ‘Sachin,Sachin’ assembled at the new terminal of the Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International Airport.
Such was the excitement that it took around 10 minutes for Tendulkar’s convoy to clear the way for him as he along with his Mumbai teammate Ajinkya Rahane headed to the team hotel Taj Bengal in New Alipore.
But Tendulkar,wearing a casual T-shirt,was seen in a jovial mood as he waved to the crowd and even obliged a fan with his autograph.
Here to play the penultimate Test match of his illustrious career,Tendulkar was given a befitting reception by the Cricket Association of Bengal officials who presented the senior-most player a giant bouquet of 199 roses.
The CAB officials also offered him prasad having offered a puja to Goddess Kali yesterday at the Dakshineshwar temple.
“He was quite impressed and told me to bring this to his hotel with utmost care. We want him to score a century in his last Test at the Eden by the blessing of the Almighty,” CAB joint secretary Subir Ganguly said.
Focussed on the his two-Test farewell series against the West Indies,Tendulkar did not talk to the media and even refused a gala dinner party which was planned by the CAB on the eve of the match.
“Cricket is his priority at the moment. He politely told us that he will not be able to take part in the dinner. But he promised to come for any future function,” Ganguly said.
Cheteshwar Pujara too came with Tendulkar,while Indian pacer Umesh Yadav arrived in another flight as the whole Indian Test squad had arrived skipping Diwali celebrations.
Indian team is scheduled to practise at the Eden Gardens from 10 am on Monday,while the visiting West Indies would train in the afternoon session.
‘We are here to play tough cricket’
The entire nation might be celebrating Sachin Tendulkar’s upcoming farewell series but former West Indies captain and team’s cricket manager Richie Richardson had a word of caution for the hosts stating that the Caribbeans are here to “play hard cricket”.
“We’re happy to be here and celebrate Sachin Tendulkar’s farewell series but we’re here to play hard cricket. We would be very very competitive,” Richardson told reporters during an informal interaction.
Heaping praise on Tendulkar,Richarson said: “He’s second to none. The appetite he has shown for scoring runs is really remarkable. His desire and dedication to play the game… It’s difficult to put it in words.”
Just like a lot of other cricketers,Richardson termed Tendulkar’s humility as his most endearing quality.
“Normally,if a person becomes famous,his attitude changes but Tendulkar has remained humble. This is the greatest quality in him. People will always love him.”
Although Indian batsmen have been in red hot form during the just-concluded ODI series against Australia,the veteran of 86 Tests and 224 ODIs said that it won’t be very easy for Virat Kohli and Co.
“I know that they are in good form but Test cricket is a different ball game altogether.”
Richardson however said India would not be under any kind of pressure despite the hype around the two-Test matches.
“The atmosphere is really amazing but having said that once a player steps on the grass,we’re all at the same level.
So,I don’t think they were under any kind of pressure.”
Asked about the pitch,Richardson said,”It looks firm to me but it would turn during the last couple of days like a typical Indian wicket.”