Sachin Tendulkar — revered more than any athlete in India, where cricket overshadows all sports — said Thursday he is leaving the game next month after playing two more test matches against the West Indies. His 200th test match will be his last.
At 5-foot-5, the 40-year-old Tendulkar is known as the Little Master. He is widely regarded as cricket's greatest batsman since Donald Bradman, the Australian great who played in the 1930s and '40s.
Having made his test debut for India in 1989 at age 16, Tendulkar has scored 15,837 runs in 198 tests and 18,426 runs in 463 one-day internationals. He is the only batsman to score a century — 100 runs in an innings — 100 times across both formats.
"All my life, I have had a dream of playing cricket for India," Tendulkar said in a statement. "I have been living this dream every day for the last 24 years. It's hard for me to imagine a life without playing cricket because it's all I have ever done since I was 11 years old."
He helped India win the World Cup title in 2011, but has struggled to live up to his reputation since. He already announced his retirement from one-day cricket in December last year, and there has been speculation for months about when he would leave the five-day version of the game as well.
Former World Cup-winning captain Kapil Dev said Tendulkar will remain an idol for all youngsters in India.
"It's a sad day, but everyone has to go one day," Dev said. "He has given happiness to millions and millions of people and has never been controversial."