Tendulkar century puts India on top

November 6th, 2008 - 8:21 pm ICT by IANS  

Sachin TendulkarNagpur, Nov 6 (IANS) Sachin Tendulkar scored his 40th Test century as India ended the first day of the fourth and last cricket Test against Australia at a comfortable 311 for five in the first innings at the brand new Vidarbha Cricket Association (VCA) Stadium here Thursday.At stumps, Sourav Ganguly, playing his last Test, was batting on 27 and captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni four to cap a good day’s play, which also saw half centuries from Virender Sehwag (66) and V.V.S. Laxman (64) playing in his 100th Test.

Tendulkar and Laxman revived India’s innings with their 146-run fourth-wicket stand after they lost three wickets in the first session.

Australia trail 0-1 in the four-match Test series and are in a must-win situation if they have to retain the Border-Gavaskar Trophy by squaring the series.

The visitors went in with two spinners, Jason Krejza replacing Stuart Clark, and retaining leg-spinner Cameron White. But nothing went their way to start with after India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni decided to bat first on a virgin track.

Tendulkar and Laxman steadied the innings with their big stand after Krejza created some panic in the in Indian camp in the morning session by dismissing Rahul Dravid and Virender Sehwag in quick succession.

The dismissals reduced India to 116/3 from a healthy 98 for one by lunch. Tendulkar and Laxman played out the post-lunch session and they were particularly severe on Krejza, who conceded 138 runs in 28 overs for his three wickets.

Openers Sehwag and debutant Murali Vijay (33), who came into the side in place of banned Gautam Gambhir, gave India a rollicking start, reeling off 98 runs at over five run an over.

Sehwag looked in fine touch and was harsh on Australia’s pace spearhead Brett Lee, hammering the speedster who conceded 20 runs in four-over first spell.

The 24-year-old Vijay looked composed and compact as he stroked fluently square of the wicket while Sehwag raced to his 16th half-century off just 45 balls.

Shane Watson, who replaced Lee, struck to break the partnership, an awkward short-pitched delivery nicking Vijay’s bat on its way to wicketkeeper Brad Haddin.

Krejza, who continued to toss the ball up despite being spanked for a huge six by Sehwag, struck to dismiss Dravid. The former captain was surprised by the turn and the bounce the off-spinner got so early on day one and stabbed at a sharp one to be caught at forward short-leg.

Minutes before lunch, Sehwag tried to late cut the off-spinner only to drag the ball on to his stump.

If the first session saw Sehwag’s belligerent power-play, Tendulkar and Laxman batted steadily in the second to set-up the foundation for a big first innings score. They guided India to 202 for three at tea.

Tendulkar scored briskly and was let off twice as he neared century. First it was Mitchell Johnson, who dropped a regulation catch when Tendulkar was on 85 and then at 96 Lee made a valiant effort in vain to get under a skier running backwards.

Tendulkar had to wait for three more overs before getting his century in style, square-cutting Krejza for a four.

His partnership with Laxman came to an end when the stylish Hyderabadi nicked Krejza to Haddin to become the debutant’s third victim.

Johnson, who bowled a disciplined line and length, finally got his reward, trapping Tendulkar legbefore. Ganguly and Dhoni saw off the last few over before play was called off three overs still to be bowled.

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