NEW DELHI — India's batting great Sachin Tendulkar was on Friday awarded the honorary rank of group captain by the chief of the Indian Air Force (IAF) for his contribution to cricket.
Tendulkar, 37, was conferred the honour by Air Chief Marshall Pradeep Naik, amid loud applause from fellow officers at a ceremony in the Indian capital.
"It was wishful thinking (that I would be part of the armed forces) and it has come true today. I'm extremely proud to be a part of the IAF. So dream, because dreams do come true," Tendulkar said after being inducted.
Naik said he hoped Tendulkar's induction would inspire India's youth to join its armed forces.
"Sachin's association will help in spreading awareness about our force," he said.
Tendulkar is the first sportsperson to be conferred a rank by the IAF and the first personality without an aviation background to receive the honour.
Tendulkar, who made his international debut on a tour of Pakistan in 1989, is the leading run-getter in both Test and one-day cricket.
He has scored 13,837 runs from 169 Tests with 48 centuries and 17,598 runs in 442 one-day matches with 46 hundreds.
Tendulkar is also the only batsman to score a double-century in one-day cricket, making 200 not out against South Africa in Gwalior earlier this year.
His next assignment for the top-ranked Indian team is a two-Test home series against Australia, starting on October 1.
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