The maestro's unbeaten 200 was an epic effort of focus, flair and dare. His passion for the golden Indian crest undiminished, the little big man oozed character after India elected to bat and ran up a mammoth 401 for three — its highest score against South Africa — on a belter at the Roop Singh Stadium.
In the process, he delighted with bold brush strokes of genius on the canvas; the colours celebrated batsmanship. He still is an explosive athlete; he still has the eye of the tiger.
Man-of-the-Match Tendulkar's spirit-lifting effort proved a match-winning one. South Africa wilted under the pressure of a big chase to go down by 153 runs. With a match remaining, India has taken a winning 2-0 lead in the series.
A.B. de Villers, using his feet well, working the ball around and finding the gaps, made a defiant unbeaten 114, but South Africa was in with little chance. To make matters worse for the visitors, the ball kept a shade low under the lights.
Tendulkar's world record double hundred was yet another landmark for the champion in a career of miles and milestones.
Pavilion in Tendulkar's name
The pavilion at the Roop Singh Stadium here will be named after him. A road in the city will also bear the maestro's name shortly.
“I need the good wishes of the people. It is the prayers of the people that have helped me in my career,'' he said.
Tendulkar added, “I do not play for records. I enjoy my cricket and I play with passion. I have done this for 20 years.''
The legend said he had struck a purple patch since the 2007 World Cup.
Asked about his record-breaking double hundred, he said, “I realised I had a chance when I got to 180 with so many overs left.''
On being at 199 at the start of the final over, he said, “I knew I would get my chance in the over. I will remember this innings. But I will not compare it with my other efforts. Each innings is different, the circumstances are different.
“No record is unbreakable. But I would be happy if an Indian breaks my record.'' He gave credit to Dinesh Karthik, Yusuf Pathan and M.S. Dhoni for their efforts. “Yusuf and Dhoni, in particular, played some very big shots.''
The crowd erupted, non-striker Dhoni and the South Africans walked up to congratulate the legend, and his teammates in the pavilion were up on their feet.
Soon, Tendulkar, undefeated, walked back to a standing ovation. His monumental double century (200, 147b, 25x4, 3x6) was his 46th ODI century. Opening the innings, he had batted through the 50 overs. Tendulkar's commitment shone through in the manner he ran between the wickets. He also batted through pain.
The hectic brace in the 47th over – third ball – when he worked left-arm paceman Wayne Parnell behind square and completed two enabled him to go past the previous highest ODI score – 194 by Pakistan's Saeed Anwar and Charles Coventry of Zimbabwe.
Tendulkar, his sights set on a historic double century, was restrained in his celebrations, attending to his right hamstring even as Dhoni and Mark Boucher greeted his achievement.
The Indian innings also featured a busy 79 (85b, 4x4, 3x6) of crisp hitting by Dinesh Karthik – he added 194 for the second wicket with Tendulkar. Also a power-packed 23-ball 36 from Yusuf Pathan, in the batting Power Play overs between 35 and 39 South Africa conceded 63, and a brutal 68 not out (35b, 7x4, 4x6) by Dhoni. The Indian captain bludgeoned the South African pacemen with wristy blows of immense power.
The astonishing afternoon, however, belonged to Tendulkar. He was light on his feet and heavy with his shots. His batsmanship does have an ethereal quality about it.
It is also timeless; the ease with which Tendulkar rolls back the years is remarkable.
The maestro's symphony in front of a delirious crowd here had some captivating notes. His mind and body in harmony, Tendulkar cover-drove Parnell to the fence. Nobody moved as the ball struck the boards. The outfield was fast, Tendulkar's timing made it appear quicker.
The feature of his batting has always been his ability to pick the length in a jiffy. He, thus, is decisive as he ventures into a front-foot drive or punches, cuts or pulls off his back-foot.
When Steyn bounced at Tendulkar, he was pulled fiercely. Tendulkar was meeting fire with fire.
All the aspects were in order - a still head, a high left-elbow, and a lovely extension of the willow - as he off-drove Parnell. Tendulkar's batting is underlined by perfect balance.
email me: firstname.lastname@example.org