The Indian Premier League (IPL) is the biggest annual event on the global cricket calendar. Started in 2008 with a lot of hope but cautious scepticism, having gone through many ebbs and flows, the league has emerged stronger each year to showcase the world’s best talents on a single stage. The league has established itself as one of the biggest platforms for youngsters to flaunt their skills – a celebration where cricket’s largest global community meet, compete, share and build bridges.
Marking the 12th anniversary of the decorated league, cricket.com celebrates and honours the legends of the IPL by inducting them to the 'Cricket.com IPL Hall of Fame' – stars who not only dazzled on the field of play but elevated the stature of the league to skyrocketing heights by their sheer presence. This year cricket.com will induct 15 such legends and who other than the Master Blaster to take the lead. Sachin Tendulkar - our first "cricket.com Hall of Fame" inductee.
34357 runs and 100 hundreds! You don't even dream of having a career like Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar. To Indian fans, he was nothing short of a God. To fans around the world, the 5’5” Mumbai lad was a batting maestro who broke tons of records and was arguably the best batsman of all time. But how did he fare in the Indian Premier League, a franchise-based T20 tournament that started after Tendulkar had already played 18-and-a-half years of international cricket and was 35 years old?
Tendulkar was designated as an icon player for Mumbai Indians ahead of the first edition of the IPL 2008. However, he couldn't play the first seven fixtures because of a groin injury but later returned in the second half of the tournament to captain the side. Tendulkar has an emotional connection with Mumbai and when he played his first IPL match, the crowd at Wankhede stadium couldn't stop chanting his name. Mumbai won four out of seven matches under his leadership but it was still not enough to qualify for the knockouts. As a player, Tendulkar struggled a bit and scored 188 runs in seven encounters at a strike-rate of just 106.2. IPL 2009 wasn't great either for Mumbai and Tendulkar. However, it all turned around in the 2010 edition.
The right-hander amassed 618 runs at an average of 47.54 and a strike-rate of 132.6 and ended the competition as the leading run-scorer. He smashed 63 off 32 in the second match of the season and never looked back. The runs kept coming as Tendulkar scored three fifties in a row and led Mumbai to their first final, where they lost to Chennai Super Kings. He scored 48 in the finale and ended the season with five half-centuries. All of his five fifties came in a winning cause, and he carried forward his form to the next season as well.
Tendulkar was at his best in IPL 2010 and 2011. In 2011, he plundered 553 runs at 42.54. He was more sedate with his approach and allowed the likes of Rohit Sharma, Ambati Rayudu and Kieron Pollard to bat more freely. His only IPL hundred came in this season when he scored a 66-ball 100 against Kochi Tuskers Kerala. He managed 30+ scores in his last five innings of IPL 2011 in which Mumbai lost to Royal Challengers Bangalore in the second qualifier. Tendulkar enjoyed two back-to-back solid seasons but age soon started to catch up. He was almost 38 when India won the 2011 World Cup, but was yet to get his hands on the IPL trophy.
He gave up captaincy after the 2011 edition and Mumbai made Harbhajan Singh the captain. Tendulkar's best years were behind him and he couldn't replicate the same level of success in his last two IPL seasons (2012 and 2013). He formed a dream opening pair with Ricky Ponting but the two senior men struggled badly. The latter had to give up captaincy and was also left out of the playing XI after six games and Rohit Sharma was handed over the leadership. The young man turned the fortunes around for Mumbai as the franchise went on to lift their maiden IPL title, giving Tendulkar a perfect farewell. Tendulkar might not have contributed much with the bat but he had a huge impact in the dressing room.
He announced his retirement from IPL immediately after Mumbai beat Chennai by 23 runs at the Eden Gardens. Because of the age factor, he might not have dominated IPL like he swayed international cricket for over 20 years. But Tendulkar had many moments that showed everyone no matter what the format is, the Master Blaster knows how to stamp his authority. It was because of him the people in Mumbai connected with the franchise and Tendulkar is still around with the team playing the role of a mentor.
* The "Cricket.com IPL Hall of Fame" only takes into account of players who have announced their retirement from IPL and last played in the 2018 season.