Ashwin century makes up for Tendulkar missing it (Roundup)

November 25th, 2011 - 8:17 pm ICT by IANS  

Sachin Tendulkar Mumbai, Nov 25 (IANS) Off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin joined two illustrious Indians Vinoo Mankad and Polly Umrigar in scoring a hundred and taking five wickets in an innings, to offset the heartbreak of seeing Sachin Tendulkar miss his much-vaunted cwentury of centuries in the third and final cricket Test against the West Indies here Friday.

Ashwin’s fluent 103 on the fourth day of the Test carried India to save a possible follow-on and a relative safety in the company of Virat Kohli (52) and the tail. India could cut the deficit to 108 by scoring 482 in their first innings in reply to the West Indies’ mammoth 590.

Then there was some excitement as the West Indies lost two quick wickets when they went in to bat a second time, but Kraigg Brathwaite (34) and Darren Bravo (27) saw to it that there was no further damage and took the score to 81 for two - an overall lead of 189 runs by the close of play. Pragyan Ojha grabbed both the wickets to fall, dismissing Adrian Barath (3) and Kirk Edwards (17).

Unless the unresponsive pitch deteriorates unexpectedly, a decisive result is highly unlikely on the fifth day Saturday.

Ashwin was a revelation, scoring his maiden Test century to go with his five for 156 in the first innings.

The tall off-spinner, playing only his third Test and coming in to bat at No.8, enthralled the crowd that came to cheer Tendulkar’s much-awaited hundred. He batted elegantly and got his runs at a terrific strike rate, hitting 15 fours and a six in his 118-ball knock.

Ashwin reached his century steering the ball between slip and gully off Ravi Rampaul and brought the crowd on their feet. Pragyan Ojha played his part in blocking 14 balls, including a over from Fidel Edwards (1/116), that allowed Ashwin to complete his century.

He joined Mankad and Umrigar, who were confirmed all-rounders and lifted India at a time they were in utter despair in the series.

Mankad achieved the feat (184, 5/196) against England at Lord’s in 1952. Umrigar’s double (172, 5/107) came at Port of Spain, Trinidad, against the West Indies in 1962. The last such feat was by Jacques Kallis, a second time at that, in 2002 against Bangladesh.

Ashwin’s showing was highly impressive for someone coming in to bat so low in the order. He first stitched a 97-run stand with Kohli and then reposed enough confidence in tail-enders Ishant Sharma, Varun Aaron and Ojha to help him get his hundred.

The morning was all about Tendulkar who has been searching for the elusive hundred for eight months. His 99th century came in the World Cup league game against South Africa in Nagpur in March. Since then the cricketing fraternity and his fans have been flocking to the stadiums to see him get that century of centuries.

The stage here was perfectly set for the maestro and he showed the intent, too.

The West Indies began the day well with Ravi Rampaul testing Tendulkar with a bouncer and Fidel Edwards striking with his first delivery of the day, getting rid of V.V.S. Laxman caught at gully.

But Tendulkar was at his very best. Resuming at overnight 67, he came out aggressively and looked set to achieve the landmark.

He raced to the 90s with three fours and a six. A straight drive and an elegant punch past cover saw the ball screaming to the boundary all along the ground. An upper cut off Edwards sailed over the ropes like it did the first time on third afternoon.

While looking to complete his century in the same fashion, Tendulkar edged Rampaul as he tried to guide the ball past the slip cordon, but he could not keep it down and Darren Sammy caught it at second slip.

A hush descended over the stadium as Tendulkar walked off staring at the heavens.

He scored 27 runs in 20 balls Friday morning, his 94 coming off 153 balls laced with eight fours and two sixes.

Sammy, who has been bowling intelligently maintaining a steady line, was rewarded with Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s wicket. The Indian skipper played over a fullish delivery and had his stumps shattered.

It fell on Kohli and Aswhin to save the side from follow-on and they did the job admirably.

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