India's Mr Reliable does it again on SA soil

Written by: D Ram Raj
Published: Monday, November 5, 2001, 13:20 [IST]
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Bangalore: The 'Little Master' did it again. With India down in the dumps at 67 for four, Sachin Ramesh (alias Reliable) Tendulkar wielded the willow with gay abandon in the first Test against South Africa at Bloemfontein.

South African fast bowlers Pollock, Hayward, Ntini and Kallis didn't know what hit them. Having big smiles on their faces after knocking off India's top four, the South Africans suddenly found the guns being trained at them.

It was the best initiation into Test cricket that Virender Sehwag could have dreamt off. He made the best use of the situation to etch his name with Sachin in a partnership and in the process became the 11th Indian to score a century on debut.

The backbone of the India innings was the Sachin-Sehwag partnership as the batsmen before and after crumbled like nine pins. Sachin was in swashbuckling form as he showed the batsmen in the pavilion and youngsters watching TV as to how to use the pace and bounce of the pitch.

If the South African quickies had instilled fear in the minds of the earlier Indian batsmen, Sachin paid them back in the same coin. Sachin used the pace and bounce generated by the bowlers to send the ball careering into the boundary ropes.

The amazement on the faces of the South African cricketers had to be seen to be believed as Sachin went berserk in reaching his 26th Test century and also bypassing Australian legend Sir Don Bradman in the all time record for total number of runs.

The South Africans restored their pride on the second day with Herschelle Gibbs doing a Sachin, but on the none too impressive Indian bowling. The lack of a fifth genuine bowler - especially a second spinner - was obvious to see as the Indians struggled to contain the free flowing South African batsmen.

Both the left-arm medium pacers - Ashish Nehra and Zaheer Khan - failed to come to terms with the easy-paced pitch and India's bowling limitation was woefully exposed.

Hopefully, the other Indian batsmen would learn from the Sachin-Sehwag duo and the Test could still see some good cricket from the Indians.


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