This time it's not about success, but the connect. This time it's not about performance, but emotion. And Wankhede is all set.
Sachin Tendulkar's last bow, as per his wish, will come at home - and rightly so. A mother will be in attendance to watch her illustrious son, somewhat unbelievably for the first time at a ground - and incidentally the last as well. A coach, who gave India its most decorated cricketer, will be present as well - watching how the world has fallen to his ward's feet.
Once Sachin decided to call it a day, he expressed his desire for a send-off at home. Debate on the venue ended there, and the announcement of Mumbai's name became a mere formality. And in about 24 hours from now, Tendulkar will start his walk to join Dravid, Ganguly, Kumble and Laxman at the boundary ropes.
There can't be a more opportune moment than Tendulkar's farewell game at the Wankhede Stadium to touch upon the master's memories of his homeground.
There can't be a more opportune moment to touch upon the highlights of Tendulkar's Wankhede connect in first-class cricket, which began with a century on Ranji Trophy debut and, who knows, might as well end with one in Test cricket.
December 10, 1988: Sachin made his debut with a figure that became his specialty: 100* against Gujarat.
1989-90 Semi-final: The match against Delhi saw Mumbai lose on the basis of first-innings lead. Tendulkar did his bit, top-scoring with 78, but it didn't prove enough.
1991-92 Semi-final: Tendulkar returned to Wankhede after a gap of around two years. With Sanjay Manjrekar's 377, centuries from Dilip Vengsarkar and Vinod Kambli and Tendulkar's 70, Mumbai posted humongous 855. In reply, Hyderabad scored 498. In the second Mumbai innings, Tendulkar scored another 80.
1991-92 Final: It was an epic summit clash with Haryana. Mumbai fell agonisingly 2 runs short to lose the game. But it was only because of Tendulkar's breathtaking 75-ball 96 in the second innings that Mumbai could reach close to the target. As the news of Tendulkar's strokeplay made its way into the city, as many as 18,000 spectators thronged Wankhede.
1994-95 final: A century in each innings by Tendulkar (140 and 139) against Punjab helped Mumbai lift the trophy despite a draw. With Manjrekar's 224 and centuries by Samir Dighe, Kambli and Tendulkar, Mumbai declared their first innings at 690 for 6 and then bowled out Punjab for 372. In the second innings, Mumbai scored 513 for 6 with Tendulkar and Sairaj Bahutule getting hundreds.
1999-00 Semi-final: After spending a decade in international cricket, it became all too easy for Tendulkar in Ranji. The game was against Tamil Nadu and Tendulkar scored 233 and 13* to take his team to the final.
1999-00 Final: A half-century (53) and a century (128) in the second innings by Tendulkar helped Mumbai beat Hyderabad by 297 runs.
2006-07: Tendulkar returned to domestic cricket after more than five years, and his 105 and 43 runs took Mumbai past Bengal in the Elite League final.
2013: Tendulkar bowed out of Ranji Trophy in style. The match turned into a big-ticket affair after Tendulkar announcing his retirement. At the difficult wicket in Lahli, Tendulkar made 79* in the second innings as Mumbai beat Haryana to kick-start their season.
Stat Attack: Tendulkar's Ranji figures at Wankhede remind you of Bradman. In 20 matches, he has scored 2437 runs with a highest of 233* and at an average of 98.04 with 11 centuries and 9 fifties.
1989-90: Like in the Ranji Trophy, Tendulkar started his Irani Trophy (now called Irani Cup) career with a century on debut. Playing for Rest of India, he scored 39 and 103.
2013: Tendulkar's last Irani Trophy game saw him at his best. He stroked 140 to silence the shouts of his retirement.
Stat Attack: Tendulkar has played just 3 Irani Trophy games, in which he scored 295 runs with a top score of 140*. He averaged 147.50 with 2 centuries.
Tendulkar has scored just one century at Wankhede as compared to five at the Chepauk in Chennai, his favourite hunting ground. But as said before, it's not about success this time. It's about the connect, the emotion attached to a player's home ground.
February 1993: Tendulkar made his Wankhede debut against England. Tendulkar got 78 in a match remembered for Kambli's 224 that won India the game by an innings and 15 runs.
1997-98: Tendulkar's solitary ton (148) at his home ground came against Sri Lanka. The match ended in a draw.
1999-00: Tendulkar won't happily remember that game against the South Africans. He was carrying the burden of the billions in that era, almost single-handedly. Despite his 97 in the first innings, India collapsed for 225. And when Tendulkar failed by scoring just 8 in the second innings, India went on to lose the game by 4 wickets.
2000-01: India hosted the invincible Aussies at the Wankhede. Tendulkar scored 76 but the rest ten could add just 100 for 176 all out. Matthew Hayden and Adam Gilchrist counter-attacked after being five down for fifty odd to take Aussies into a position from where they forced a 10-wicket comprehensive win. Tendulkar scored another half-century (65) in the second innings.
2004-05: India were bundled out for 104 and Australia looked almost set to clinch the Test by taking a 99-run lead on a dust-bowl. But then the visitors found themselves trapped as the track started turning square. VVS Laxman's 69 and Sachin Tendulkar's 55 took India to 205 in the second innings. But needing just 107 to win, Harbhajan Singh (5 for 29) and Murali Kartik's 3 for 32 took India to an unbelievable 13-run victory.
2012-13: That was Tendulkar's latest appearance in a Test at Wankhede, but it didn't turn out to be a happy one. He scored 8 in both the innings; and a clinical England side, led by spinners Graeme Swann and Monty Panesar, beat India by 10 wickets.
Overall Test Record at Wankhede: 10 matches, 847 runs, highest 148, average 47.05, 1 century, 3 fifties.
Overall first-class record at Wankhede: 33 matches, 3534 runs, highest 233*, average 78.53, 14 hundreds, 15 fifties.
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