Indian batsman Sachin Tendulkar announced his retirement from international cricket on Thursday, saying his 200th test next month will be the last of a glorious 24-year career.
The 40-year-old Mumbai batsman is the most prolific in international cricket history with 15,837 runs in 198 tests and 18,426 runs in 463 one-day internationals. He also holds the record for most centuries in tests (51) and ODIs (49). He made his test debut for India in 1989 at the age of 16.
Tendulkar, who has already retired from limited over internationals, made the announcement in a statement.
"All my life, I have had a dream of playing cricket for India," Tendulkar said. "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."
"It's been a huge honor to have represented my country and played all over the world. I look forward to playing my 200th test match on home soil, as I call it a day," Tendulkar said.
"I thank my family for their patience and understanding. Most of all, I thank my fans and well-wishers who through their prayers and wishes have given me the strength to go out and perform at my best," he added.
Former India captain Sourav Ganguly said Tendulkar was the most complete batsman he had seen.
"He had all the shots in the world," Ganguly told the Times Now news channel after Tendulkar made the announcement. "Don't just think about the talent that he had, because he was born with that. It is the effort that he has put in which is for all young cricketers to emulate. As for his last test, I would want him to play his 200th test (on home ground) in Mumbai."
World Cup-winning captain Kapil Dev said Tendulkar is an idol for all young people 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."
Former Indian captain and selector Krishnamachari Srikkanth said Tendulkar has been an inspiration.
"All of us are going to miss Tendulkar," Srikkanth said. "His career has been amazing. I hope he goes out with flying colors with a hundred in his last test. I was fortunate enough to be his first captain (in international cricket). I still remember him talking to me in a calm and cool manner then and even today he remains that same, simple human being."
Former Sri Lankan spinner Muttiah Muralitharan, who finished with a record 800 test wickets, said Tendulkar had timed his retirement well.
"It's the right time for him to retire - after 200 tests," Muralitharan told Headlines Today news channel. "Pressure for him has always been more than for anyone else because people expected him to score a century every time he went out to bat."
Former England captain Michael Vaughan praised Tendulkar on his Twitter page.
"Greatest batsman retires," Vaughan tweeted. "The Master brought a lot of happiness globally."
Tendulkar is ranked alongside Viv Richards and not far behind Australian legend Don Bradman in the list of the world's greatest batsmen and he is revered in India as a popular hero.
His last test will be against the West Indies at a yet to be determined venue in India from Nov. 14-18.
The Little Master
Test debut - v Pakistan, Karachi - 1989 (aged 16).
Tests - 198*
Innings - 327*
Runs - 15837*
Average - 53.86
100s - 51*
50 - 67*
High score - 248 not out
* Most in test history