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Tendulkar rises to the occasion

Chennai, G Unnikrishnan, Feb 24, 2013, DH News Service:

Veteran slams unbeaten 71 to keep India afloat after Australia post 380 all out

vintage stuff: Sachin Tendulkar during his fluent 71 not out in the first Test against Australia on Saturday. Pti

Sachin Tendulkar and James Pattinson showed why Test is the most cherished form of cricket with splendid efforts on the second day of the first Test at the MA Chidambaram stadium on Saturday.
Tendulkar (71 batting) played the most fluent Test innings in recent memory that not only revealed his supreme touch but also helped India stay afloat amidst heavy bombarding from pacer Pattinson, who accounted for all top three Indian wickets.

After labouring till the extended minutes of the first session to end Australia’s first innings at 380, India lost openers M Vijay and Virender Sehwag to Pattinson’s extra pace, and for the zillionth time the responsibility to shore up Indian innings was on Tendulkar.

But his form and mode of dismissals were causes of worry of late. The Mumbaikar was getting clean bowled too often for comfort, and against a high quality pace attack like the one Australia have, it would have been doubly difficult to imagine him conjuring a rescue knock. 

That’s precisely what he did on the day, carrying India to 182 for three at close. India are still 198 runs in arrears.

Perhaps, Tendulkar’s level of confidence has touched a new height after those back-to-back hundreds in the Ranji Trophy final and in the Irani Cup. But those outings might also have helped him polish a few technical glitches, and a slightly open stance on the day indicated the tweaking he did in his batting.

Only Tendulkar can describe the precise effect of the slightly altered stance, but there was a fluency in his batting and it was visible from the first over he faced from Pattinson. It was a roaring beginning, something India desperately needed after Pattinson’s burst.

The batting maestro started his scoring with drive through covers for four, and followed it up with a dab that sent the ball speeding through the gap between cover and cover-point, and topped those two exquisite shots with a delicate glance to fine leg. He was truly up and away from that point, and India breathed anew.

The lone uncertain moment in his stint came when off-spinner Nathan Lyon made a vociferous appeal for leg before in his first over, but umpire Marais Erasmus awarded a tight decision in favour of the batsman, who was then on 37.

There was company for Tendulkar at various stages of his innings, and the first of such associations came with Cheteswhar Pujara for the third wicket that was worth 93 runs. Here, a few words need to be spared for Pujara’s smart batting. Once saw the tremendous touch of his senior partner, Pujara happily went about playing the second fiddle role, without actually cutting his own scoring rate.

Just when he appeared primed for a bigger knock, Pattinson managed to find the gap between Pujara’s bat and pad with a low off-cutter that disturbed the woodwork. At 105 for three, India were not on a rosy ground, but here Tendulkar managed to goad Virat Kohli (50 batting) to add 77 runs for the unbeaten fourth-wicket alliance.

Apart from a few loose wafts, Kohli was his assured self, and prospered in the company of Tendulkar, driving, cutting and flicking with panache.

But the beginning of Indian innings was not as solid as the way they ended the day. Pattinson, who is playing his first Test after an injury forced break, powered in from the Pavilion End to rattle the Indian openers.

Cranking up pace that occasionally touched the 150 kmph mark, the Victorian pacer first removed Vijay, whose expansive drive helped the red cherry on its way to the stumps. Sehwag’s was a rather bizarre dismissal. Wearing a corrective glass might have helped him spotting the ball better, but it no way enhanced his reflexes.

Firstly, the Delhi man reacted slowly to a fast, climbing ball from Pattinson that took an edge and looped in the air. There was ample time for him to kick the ball away, but he once again reacted so slowly that by the time he moved closer, the ball fell on top of the leg stump, dislodging the bails.
India were in quicksand at 12 for two, but it’s hard to deny Tendulkar at his beloved Chepauk where his average hovers around 88. He might not have had the time to complete his sixth hundred here on the day, but he wouldn’t mind it one bit because his unbeaten fifty has evened out the battle. At least for now!

AUSTRALIA (I Innings, O/n 316/7):
Cowan st Dhoni b Ashwin    29
(55m, 45b, 4x4, 1x6)
Warner lbw Ashwin    59
(133m, 93b, 6x4)
Hughes b Ashwin    6
(14m, 15b)
Watson lbw Ashwin    28
(53m, 60b, 3x4)
Clarke c Bhuvneshwar b Jadeja    130
(325m, 246b, 12x4, 1x6)
Wade lbw Ashwin    12
(33m, 35b, 1x4)
Henriques lbw Ashwin    68
(172m, 132b, 5x4)
Starc b Jadeja    3
(4m, 3b)
Siddle c Sehwag b Harbhajan    19
(111m, 94b, 2x4)
Pattinson (not out)    15
(52m, 44b, 1x4)
Lyon c Kohli b Ashwin    3
(37m, 28b)
Extras (B-1, LB-7)    8
Total (all out, 133 overs)    380
Fall of wickets: 1-64 (Cowan), 2-72 (Hughes), 3-126 (Watson), 4-131 (Warner), 5-153 (Wade), 6-304 (Henriques), 7-307 (Starc), 8-361 (Clarke), 9-364 (Siddle).
Bowling: Bhuvneshwar 13-1-52-0, Ishant 17-3-59-0, Harbhajan 25-2-87-1, Ashwin 42-12-103-7, Jadeja 36-10-71-2.
INDIA (I Innings)
Vijay b Pattinson    10
(17m, 15b, 2x4)
Sehwag b Pattinson    2
(28m, 11b)
Pujara b Pattinson    44
(116m, 74b, 6x4)
Tendulkar (batting)    71
(205m, 128b, 6x4)
Kohli (batting)    50
(99m, 84b, 7x4)
Extras (LB-3, W-2)    5
Total (for 3 wkts, 52 overs)    182
Fall of wickets: 1-11 (Vijay), 2-12 (Sehwag), 3-105 (Pujara).
Bowling: Starc 14-2-37-0 (w-1), Pattinson 6-1-25-3 (w-1), Siddle 8-1-31-0, Lyon 14-0-55-0, Henriques 8-2-17-0, Clarke 2-0-14-0.


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