Tendulkar, Yuvraj take India close to win (Tea Report)

December 15th, 2008 - 4:25 pm ICT by IANS  

Sachin TendulkarChennai, Dec 15 (IANS) India were within sight of achieving a historic victory as, chasing 387, they reached 304 for four at tea on the final day of their first cricket Test against England at the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium here Monday.Guiding India’s fortunes was Sachin Tendulkar (65 batting) who notched up his 52nd half-century and showcased some vintage shots in the process. Along with the precocious Yuvraj Singh (45 batting) who rode his luck, Tendulkar had put on 80 runs for the unbroken fourth wicket in 22.4 overs.

In the final session of play, India require 83 more runs in 40 overs to achieve victory.

India, though, went through some nervous moments following the loss of three wickets in addition to that of Virender Sehwag last evening.

However, Tendulkar, with a judicious mix of caution and aggression held the innings together. More importantly, he helped soothe the nerves of Yuvraj who was constantly heckled by Andrew Flintoff.

Tendulkar played some delightful shots and on occasions, rolled back the years with lofted hits to midwicket. Yuvraj complemented the efforts with elegant strokeplay as the two raised the 50 partnership in 14.4 overs to take India closer to possible victory.

A huge six off Monty Panesar by Yuvraj took India to less than 100 runs of the target.

Resuming at the overnight total of 131 for one, India lost Rahul Dravid (04) and opener Gautam Gambhir (66) before lunch and then V.V.S. Laxman (26) soon after lunch.

With six wickets in hand, an India victory was very much on the cards at the tea break.

Dravid’s early departure, snicking Flintoff to Prior behind the stumps, was just the start England were looking for. However, Flintoff and then fellow-seamer James Anderson were distinctly unlucky as Tendulkar and Gambhir repeatedly played and missed.

Tendulkar was cautious while Gambhir, the more aggressive of the two, played a few attractive shots, but tended to flirt with danger, a weakness that the England bowlers preyed on and eventually secured his wicket.

In fact, it was a far from convincing performance by the Indian batsmen and unsurprisingly, Gambhir fished outside the off-stump once too often at Anderson to be smartly picked up by a diving Paul Collingwood at gully.

In walked Laxman and almost immediately got into his stride with typical wristy drives on the onside and a particularly brilliant back-foot drive off Flintoff.

Skipper Kevin Pietersen opted for a pace-spin combination with Flintoff and Anderson alternating from one end while spinners Monty Panesar and Graeme Swann operated from the other.

The bowlers stuck to their task gamely to keep England in the reckoning.

Soon after lunch, Laxman left following a soft dismissal as he was surprised by the extra bounce to offer a simple catch to short-leg fielder Ian Bell off Swann.

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