Tendulkar to be conferred India's highest civilian award

MUMBAI (Reuters) - Sachin Tendulkar will become the first sportsperson to receive a Bharat Ratna, India's highest civilian honor, the country's government announced hours after the batting great's 200th and final test ended on Saturday.

Cricket's most prolific run-scorer bid an emotional farewell to the game at his home ground in Mumbai, ending a glittering 24-year career during which he bagged almost every batting record.

"Sachin Tendulkar is undoubtedly an outstanding cricketer - a living legend who has inspired millions across the globe," Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's office said in a statement.

"During the last 24 years, since the young age of 16 years, Tendulkar has played cricket across the world and won laurels for our country.

"He has been a true ambassador of India in the world of sports. His achievements in cricket are unparalleled, the records set by him unmatched, and the spirit of sportsmanship displayed by him exemplary.

"That he has been honored with several awards is testimony to his extraordinary brilliance as a sportsman."

A perfect role model for the country's youth and the sport worldwide with his impeccable image on and off the field, Tendulkar was nominated to the upper house of the Indian parliament last year.

He left the game after playing more test matches (200), scoring the most test (15,921) and one-day international (18,426) runs, and compiling more test (51) and one-day (49) hundreds than any other player in cricket history.

(Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly; Editing by John O'Brien)