11/14/2013 09:59 EST | Updated 01/23/2014 06:58 EST

Festive atmosphere for Tendulkar's farewell international cricket match on his home ground

MUMBAI, India - Sachin Tendulkar's last international game has been built up as an opportunity for fans to show their love for one of the greatest cricket players of all time. And that's exactly how it has started out.

Thousands of adoring fans filed into the stadium on Thursday, many with their faces painted in the colours of the Indian flag and with either "Sachin" or "200" written on their foreheads to commemorate his 200th and last test match.

With the West Indies being asked to bat first after India won the toss with a coin specially minted for the occasion, spectators made up for the disappointment of not seeing Tendulkar bat in the first few hours by letting out a loud roar each time he fielded the ball.

"I did not have tickets for the match but still came here hoping to manage one this morning," said 30-year-old Sumit Shah, sporting a "Farewell Sachin" cap that is popular with spectators here. "We saw Sachin seated in the front row of the team bus when the players came in and even that is good enough for us for the time being."

Tendulkar announced last month that he would retire after playing two home tests. The venue for his last test was fittingly announced to be his own home ground where he also won the World Cup in 2011.

The 40-year-old Indian holds dozens of batting records which include making most runs and centuries in both tests and one-day internationals. He was the first batsman to score a double-century in one-day internationals and is the only player to score 100 international centuries.

Though several politicians, film actors and sportsmen watched the match either on invitation from organizers or by arranging their own tickets, some former top cricketers were not invited for the match.

Former India captain Gundappa Viswanath wrote in a column in The Times of India he was expecting an invitation but did not get one.

"For some reason, the BCCI (Board of Control for Cricket in India), which usually invites us for such occasions, hasn't extended any invite and so I will not be travelling to Mumbai but I'll be watching every ball on television," Viswanath wrote. "After all, who can afford to miss this test?"


While Tendulkar's retirement is huge news in India and other parts of the cricket world, his final match was not covered by many news outlets in text or photo because of an ongoing dispute with cricket's organizers in India.

For the past 18 months, BCCI has prohibited certain photo-only agencies, such as Getty, from covering cricket matches. Because of that, several agencies, including The Associated Press and Reuters, have declined to cover BCCI-run cricket. The News Media Coalition, a consortium of news outlets including the AP, has been attempting to negotiate an agreement with the BCCI.

Many agencies covered Tendulkar's departure from outside the stadium and on the streets of Mumbai.