Tendulkar~~s 31st ton halts Windies in its stride

Published: Saturday, November 2, 2002, 22:50 [IST]
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Kolkata: India relied on Sachin Tendulkar's batting genius to pull it out of trouble in the third and final Test against the West Indies on Saturday. The little master slammed a sparkling unbeaten 114 for his 31st Test century in 103 matches as India recovered from 87 for 4 to reach 195 for 4 at stumps on the fourth day at the Eden Gardens. Only compatriot Sunil Gavaskar (34) has scored more Test centuries than Tendulkar. Tendulkar shared a 108-run stand for the unfinished fifth wicket with Venkatsai Laxman, who was unbeaten on 30. The hosts were 56 runs ahead with six wickets in hand after conceding a first- innings lead of 139. The West Indies was all out for 497 after resuming at 446 for 5 in reply to India's 358, with Marlon Samuels scoring a solid 104 for his maiden Test century in 13 matches. Off spinner Harbhajan Singh finished with 5 for 115 for his 11th haul of five or more wickets in an innings in 31 Tests. West Indian fast bowlers Mervyn Dillon (2 for 63), Cameron Cuffy and Darren Powell shared four wickets to raise their team's hopes of posting a win before Tendulkar produced a gem of a knock to halt the tourists' victory march. The 29-year-old's first hundred at this venue in six Tests came at the right time for India, whose top-order batsmen had floundered against the persevering West Indian pacemen.Tendulkar mastered the four-man West Indies pace bowling with a vigorous counter- attack, smashing 17 fours all round the wicket in his 196-ball knock to keep alive his team's hopes of saving the match. None of the West Indian bowlers could trouble Tendulkar who delighted nearly 60,000 spectators with his rich stroke-play after Dillon had done the early damage. Dillon removed openers Sanjay Bangar and Virender Sehwag in a lively spell of seam bowling under overcast conditions. The 28-year-old Trinidadian struck with his first ball when he had Bangar caught by Shivnarine Chanderpaul at third slip. Bangar was beaten more by movement than pace before edging the ball in the slips, where Chanderpaul anticipated well to hold the edge. Sehwag (10) drove and flicked Dillon for two boundaries in the bowler's next over before edging one to leg-slip where Chanderpaul again held a good catch. India suffered one more setback when Powell trapped Rahul Dravid leg-before to send India reeling at 49 for 3. Skipper Saurav Ganguly, who made 29 in the first innings, disappointed his home fans again when he was adjudged leg-before for 16 off Cuffy. Tendulkar then restored balance with his aggressive batting as he drove, cut, pulled and swept to find various parts of the boundary. Chanderpaul had earlier equalled his career-best score of 140 to help his team gain a sizeable lead. The tourists lost their last five wickets for 51 in the opening hour while going for quick runs in order to give enough time to their pacemen to bowl the opposition out. Chanderpaul added four to his overnight 136 before being surprised by the bounce of a Sehwag delivery as he cut it straight to Harbhajan at point in the day's first over. He struck one six and 17 fours in his 258-ball knock. Samuels, 89 overnight, completed his hundred when he on-drove leg spinner Anil Kumble for a single before being caught by Sehwag at forward short-leg off Harbhajan. The 21-year-old Jamaican hit 18 fours in his 182-ball knock and shared a 195-run stand for the sixth wicket with Chanderpaul. Kumble took two of the last three wickets to finish with 3 for 169.

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