He has, without doubt, been a genius of the game, effortlessly scoring runs against the best bowlers of the 23 year span of his career, on all wickets and in all situations. He has set so many records, that it may not be a long time before some of them are beaten, it may be that some are just never beaten. And in India, he will never be beaten. He is as near to a God as any living being can be in his home country.
He was good enough to score a fifty in only his second innings of test cricket, at the tender age of 16, in the cauldron of Faisalabad, against the old enemy Pakistan, whose attack featured Imran Khan, Wasim Akram and Abdul Qadir.
His maiden test century came aged 17, on the fifth day at Old Trafford, with his side 109-4 and two sessions to bat out to save the match. Since then he has added another 50 hundreds in his total of over 15,000 runs at an average of over 54. He has more than 2,000 more test runs than the second highest run scorer Ricky Ponting, and his 18,426 one-day international runs are over 4,500 more than the Australian.
Given the statistics above and his stature in the game and in India, it will be a brave selector who suggests leaving Tendulkar out of the Indian team, but his highest score in his last 10 test innings is 25, and you have to go back 29 innings, to 2nd January 2011 to find his last test hundred - a period which featured home tests against West Indies and New Zealand. And with his 40th birthday coming up in April, it would probably be his most amazing feat were he to rediscover the form he has shown over his career until recently.
Watching him struggle to cope with Monty Panesar and Graeme Swann has been embarrassing, even for England fans, who are always happier when the Little Master is back in the pavilion.
He clearly doesn't find batting as easy as he used to, and, as a result, doesn't seem to be enjoying his time in the middle as much. He was bowled by Panesar in the first innings by a delivery which would have been too good for most, but in the second innings he looked uncomfortable from ball one. He was lucky to escape a very close call on a stumping in the previous over off Swann, before getting the length wrong horribly off Panesar and getting one of those LBW decisions when you just start walking without needing the umpire's confirmation of your fate.
Once a batsman's judgement of length goes, it doesn't come back. While his eyes may not be noticeably worse in every day life, the split second ability to pick the length, and his natural ability to translate that into his imperious shot-making, are looking like they may be starting to betray him. I am sure he will be working as hard in the nets this week as he has throughout his career, particularly with this series very much back on the line, and, even as an ardent England supporter, it would be nice to see him find one last semblance of form.
However, for his sake, and for the sake of his reputation, I hope he is honest to himself and to Indian cricket and knows when to call it a day. On the evidence of this latest test, the time may well be now. Please Sachin, do the right thing, and bow out gracefully. No-one will begrudge you a long and prosperous retirement.
image: © abir82