"I think this is the right time to stop playing IPL. I am 40. I have to face the reality. I had decided that this would be my last season. And now the ending is perfect," Tendulkar said after Mumbai beat Chennai Super Kings by 23 runs at the Eden Gardens last night to lift their maiden IPL trophy.
Tendulkar, who played 78 IPL matches accumulating 2334 runs at an average of 34.83, had to stay out of the final after failing to recover from a left hand injury that he picked up a fortnight ago in a match against Sunrisers Hyderabad.
The veteran, who scored one century and 13 half-centuries during his overall IPL stint, played just 14 matches this season making 287 runs at an average of 22.07 with 54 being his highest."For the World Cup I had to wait for 21 years and this (the IPL) for six years. So, It's never too late. This is my last IPL. It's the perfect way to end it," a jovial Tendulkar said after his team's triumph."I have got to be realistic here. I've enjoyed my six seasons with MI. It's been fantastic journey. This season was superb. We thought our third season was the best but this one is the icing on the cake," he added.
The affable right-hander, however, did not specify whether he would compete for Mumbai in the Champions League Twenty20 which is scheduled for October.
"I can't wait to hold this trophy. I waited for six years. I can never thank the fans enough. A big thank you to all the supporters who enjoyed cricket. Cricket is the winner and we have been able to produce some fantastic cricket here," he added.
Asked about how it felt playing at 40, Tendulkar said, "Anil (Kumble) said that 40 is just a number. We have worked hard together. Even on optional practice because despite all the travelling everyone turned up."Things don't come easily, you have to work hard for them. It's exciting but you have to alter your body clock in the grind of IPL because matches finish after or close to midnight. And, sometimes we catch a flight at eight in the morning making all the adjustments that are required," he added.
On whether he would be tempted to play the Mumbai Indians opening match at the Wankhede next season, Tendulkar said, "It's tempting. But this is the best point. Thank you very much, now I can't wait to touch the trophy."This is the second format from which Tendulkar has announced his retirement after having called quits from the ODIs in December last year right before the series against Pakistan.
Tendulkar went out from the ODIs after amassing 18,426 runs in 463 matches at an average of 44.83. The diminutive right-hander has an astonishing 49 hundreds in the format, including a double hundred -- the first in this form of the game.The cricket fans will now have to wait till the end of the year when Tendulkar is likely to be seen in action against South Africa in a three-Test series where he is expected to complete a historic 200 Tests.