Sachin equals Don~~s mark, helps India to 262 for 4

Published: Saturday, April 20, 2002, 22:18 [IST]
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Port of Spain (Trinidad): Indian batting genius Sachin Tendulkar reached another milestone in his glittering career when he became the second-highest century-maker with an unbeaten 113 in the second Test against the West Indies on Friday. His 29th Test hundred not only brought him on par with Australian Don Bradman, but also helped his team recover from 38 for two to reach 262 for four at stumps on the opening day after being put in to at the Queen's Park Oval. Venkat Sai Laxman was batting on 21 after having survived a chance in the slips off Cameron Cuffy when on 10. Tendulkar, who turns 29 on April 24, is now behind compatriot Sunil Gavaskar, who scored a record 34 Test hundreds. Bradman took fewer matches than the Indians to compile 29 tons, reaching the landmark in just 52 Tests. Gavaskar needed 125 and Tendulkar 93. Tendulkar perfectly timed his first Test hundred in seven Tests in the West Indies, for the tourists needed a big partnership to pull themselves out of trouble. India had lost openers Shiv Das (10) and Sanjay Bangar (9) before Tendulkar came to his team's rescue with a 124-run stand for the third wicket with Rahul Dravid (67). Tendulkar not only upstaged Dravid, but also made West Indies skipper Carl Hooper rue his decision to put India in to bat after winning the toss. He smashed 14 fours in his 235-ball knock. The West Indies included four fast bowlers in its squad, hoping to make the most of a fresh pitch. Mervyn Dillon and Adam Sanford shared two early wickets, but then struggled for success with their fellow pacemen as the wicket became better for batting as the match progressed. Marlon Black was the other fast bowler to take a wicket when he bowled Dravid in the closing session. The fourth wicket fell to the off-spin of Hooper, who had skipper Saurav Ganguly (25) caught by Dillon at mid-off. Tendulkar and Dravid played a big role in neutralising the efficacy of the West Indies pacemen with their crucial partnership. Dravid, who scored an unbeaten 144 in the drawn opening Test at Georgetown, looked in excellent form as he drove firmly and fluently to strike 11 fours in his 147-ball knock. Tendulkar was a bit subdued for a short spell in the afternoon session, especially after having survived a confident leg before appeal off Dillon when on 28. He then batted with freedom, smashing Dillon for two fours in an over and square- driving Black for another boundary to inch closer to the three-figure knock. Tendulkar reached his century in the closing hour, cutting Sanford for a brace to third-man. The tourists were in trouble when they lost both of their openers for 38 before being steadied by Dravid and Tendulkar. Dillon struck in his fourth over, trapping Das leg before with the one that came in sharply off the wicket. Bangar opened the innings for the first time in his five Tests, staying at the crease for 75 minutes before being caught behind off Sanford. Tendulkar and Dravid then thwarted the West Indies for more than a session, taking no risks and choosing the right deliveries to punish. Dravid, who batted at number five in the previous Test, returned to his familiar number-three spot to yet again play a significant innings under pressure. India went into the match without leg spinner Anil Kumble, only the second bowler after Englishman Jim Laker to grab a perfect-10 in a Test innings. The 31-year-old, who took 10-74 against Pakistan at Delhi in 1999, is also the second Indian after paceman Kapil Dev to have taken more than 300 Test scalps. Kumble, however, was not at his best in the first match as he finished with two for 145 before being dropped from a Test team for the first time since 1990. He was replaced with left-arm seamer Ashish Nehra as India included three pacemen and one spinner. The tourists made two more changes, replacing wicket-keeper Deep Dasgupta and off spinner Sharandeep Singh with debutant Ajay Ratra and Harbhajan Singh.

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