Instead of a journalistic account of Sachin Tendulkar's career, I would like to attempt an Indian admirer's point of view.
Like most other Indians, for me Tendulkar is not only arguably the complete batsman of my generation, he is one of the few icons who connects India as a nation. He is the role model to many people of my generation, like probably Bradman was for the Australians of his time. He carried the hopes of a nation of 1 billion people on his formidable shoulders until the recent past when many youngsters have been able to share the burden. For most of these youngster cricketers, Tendulkar himself has been the inspiration and role model. He is everything that hard work could result in - perfection, integrity and his unyielding passion for the game even at the age of 39.
From a cricket enthusiast's point of view, Tendulkar has perfected many unorthodox shots and given them names for e.g. the paddle sweep. His straight drive is a sheer joy to watch and an astute observer will have noticed the improvements over the years, however infinitesimal they may be. I remember one friend saying, (the statement is not strictly rational) - "he can play all the shots in the book and outside the book."
In India, Tendulkar is like Kafka in the world of literature - 'the untouchable of untouchables' to use an expression by Milan Kundera. You can criticize everyone, including the Prime Minister and President, but not him, without risking the barrage of well-thought-out arguments and insults of the meanest variety.
Till date, he has scored 51 centuries in test cricket and 49 centuries in one day internationals, making it a total of 100 international centuries unlikely to be surpassed in the near future. I would not venture into the statistics of his career as that would take another node to be elaborated.
When Tendulkar scored the first double hundred in the history of one day internationals, I believe there was a chorus from people across the globe - "No one deserves it better than him." There might be doubts about who is the greatest test batsman, but the candidates for the top honor in one day internationals are fewer in number and there are no prizes for guessing the most likely winner, though some would like to bring in the name of Sir Viv Richards.
Winning the World Cup in 2011 has to be one of the highlights of his career. I have heard from more than a few people about their contribution to this victory. The sentiment echoed is, absurd it may be - "15 years of watching cricket has finally paid off." The essence of this statement is the identification of the Indian cricket fan with his icon - the middle-class boy who rose from his school cricket ground to the highest echelons of glory in the sporting history of India.