Mumbai: Sachin Tendulkar is the most wanted man in Mumbai these days. From the state government to cricket officials and his close friends, it seems everyone wants him to attend functions in honour of his retirement.
The Maharashtra government’s tourism department is looking at making him its brand ambassador. Officials plan to organise a ceremony in his honour to announce that a museum will be set up in his name. Tendulkar has yet to respond to the invite. A few top politicians are trying to exert their influence to try and get Tendulkar for some events.
As the mad chase goes on, thousands are already roaming the Wankhede stadium for tickets for his final Test match this week. Despite the fact that the ticket counter only opened on Monday morning, fans for someone, anyone, with a ticket that night want to sell it.
Considering the huge rush for the limited number of tickets, and the fact that the stadium has a seating capacity of only 45,000, some fans stationed themselves in front of the counter before midnight. The ticket counters are next to the Mumbai Hockey Association and Islam Gymkhana, and police are present at both counters fearing a stampede during ticket sales. The Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) has decided not to sell tickets online as officials believe the huge demand could lead to a website crash.
Tendulkar himself has requested 500 tickets for the match, while the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has asked for 1,200 tickets over and above those that need to be given to the sponsors. According to an MCA official, there would at most be only 4,500 tickets for sale through the counters, hence the police have decided to guard the counter sales staff from potential violence.
Tendulkar fans are willing to shell out any amount of money to get tickets.
Amidst all the frenzy, Tendulkar is fighting hard to remain composed and focused on the Test match. On the way to Mumbai from Kolkata, he appealed to officials to inform everyone to avoid giving him any more presents. In Kolkata, he said he has left behind a room full of gifts.
“I thought I had a big house, but with so many gifts, now I find it too small,” he said.
Hundreds of former Tendulkar colleagues will be here to bid him farewell. The India Today Group has organised a one-day Salute Sachin Conclave on November 12 in which cricketers and sportsmen will speak about Tendulkar. Those invited are Brian Lara, Sunil Gavaskar, Wasim Akram, Mohammad Azharuddin, K Srikanth, Anshuman Gaekwad, Ajit Wadekar, Kapil Dev, Saurav Ganguly, Steve Waugh, Bishan Singh Bedi, Muttiah Muralitharan, Abdul Qadir, Madan Lal, Harbhajan Singh, Suresh Raina, Sania Mirza, Leander Paes, Sushil Kumar and Pullela Gopichand, along with noted Hindi poet Gulzar and Bollywood star Abhishek Bachchan.
Meanwhile, the BCCI’s #ThankYouSachin campaign on Twitter has reached 500,000 followers. Whoever sends an appreciative message for Sachin to the @BCCI handle with the #ThankYouSachin hashtag will instantly receive a tweet from @BCCI with a picture of Sachin, a personalised message and his signature.