''The writing is on the wall. He's been performing to expectation for the last 16 years and it's taken its toll, physically and mentally,'' Lal told BBC World Service Sport.
He, however, insisted that Tendulkar is still a key member in the side and provides stability in the squad which is teeming with youngsters.
''He represents a generation of cricketers who have done phenomenally well for India. With (Sourav) Ganguly not in the side, you really need Sachin there to provide stability.
''I believe for the next year, year and a half, he is essential to the Indian cause,'' he said of the batting maestro, who is recovering from a shoulder injury and is hoping to tour the West Indies to play the Test series.
Lal also felt that the crammed international schedule was taking toll on the players.
''Undoubtedly the stress level has increased over time. Most cricketers are now suffering from severe strain. The stakes are higher, there's a lot more to be earned, so in every aspect the pressure has gone up many, many fold from when I played, so there's bound to be burn-out of certain players,'' he said.
''If the ICC does get together to limit it to a certain amount (of cricket), you never know what is going to be enough. Who's going to decide? Is it going to be decided by the fitness of a Sachin Tendulkar or the stresses on a Ricky Ponting? I don't think there's anybody qualified to decide,'' he said.