NEW DELHI: Indian batting legend Sachin Tendulkar on Sunday announced his retirement from international one-day cricket after scoring a record-breaking 49 centuries in the 50-over format.
The 39-year-old is the world's top run-getter in one-day cricket, with 18,426 runs from 463 matches at an average of 44.83.
“I have decided to retire from the one-day format of the game,” he said in a statement.
“I feel blessed to have fulfilled the dream of being part of a World Cup winning Indian team (in 2011).
“I am eternally grateful to all my well-wishers for their unconditional support and love over the years.”Tendulkar, who is also the highest scorer in Tests, said that he was quitting to allow the Indian selectors to build a team for the 2015 World Cup which is being held in Australia and New Zealand.
“The preparatory process to defend the World Cup in 2015 should begin early... I would like to wish the team all the very best for the future,” he said.
Tendulkar, who has been dubbed the “Little Master”, made his one-day debut aged 16 in Gujranwala on a tour of Pakistan in 1989. He lasted just two deliveries before being dismissed by Waqar Younis without scoring.
But in what turned out to be his last two one-day innings, during the Asia Cup in Dhaka in March, he made 114 against Bangladesh to record his 100th international century and then scored 52 against Pakistan.
He played in six World Cups since 1992 and finally found success in his last appearance in the tournament when India defeated Sri Lanka in the final in Tendulkar's home city of Mumbai on April 2, 2011.
He was carried off the pitch at the end of the game on the shoulders of his team-mates.
Tendulkar was two months away from his 37th birthday when he smashed the first-ever double century in the history of one-day internationals, making an unbeaten 200 against South Africa in Gwalior in February, 2010.
It was unclear if he will continue to play Test cricket, where he has scored a record 15,645 runs in 194 matches at an average of 54.32 with 51 centuries. Former India skipper Krishnamachari Srikkanth said Tendulkar's records can never be matched.
“I am surprised by his move but he is leaving ODI cricket on a high. I am sure he will want to leave on a high in Test cricket also. He will be looking forward to a good Test series against Australia,” he said.
“His records cannot be surpassed.”
Former captain Sourav Ganguly said: “I felt that he might have played on, but it is his decision and I think it is right.
“There was a doubt on whether he would play ODI cricket or not. But I am not surprised by his decision. He has done what he thought was right.”
India off-spinner Harbhajan Singh also paid tribute to the record-breaking batsman.
“Master. 463 matches, 23 yrs, 18426 runs !!!! These numbers no body else will be able to come close to. salute salute salute to sachin,” he tweeted.
Tendulkar was part of a famed Indian middle order which included Ganguly, Rahul Dravid and Venkatsai Laxman - all of whom have now retired from all levels of the game.
His announcement on Sunday comes only weeks after Ricky Ponting, second only to Tendulkar in the list of highest run scorers in Test cricket, played his last match for Australia.
Tendulkar is also the star batsman for the Mumbai Indians in the Indian Premier League (IPL), a domestic Twenty20 tournament.