Rahul Dravid hails Sachin Tendulkar return

Published: Tuesday, July 11, 2006, 23:53 [IST]
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London:Indian captain Rahul Dravid welcomed Sachin Tendulkar's return to fitness after watching him make an unbeaten half-century in a charity match in London.

Tendulkar, who is recovering from shoulder surgery, made 50 not out for an International XI against Pakistan at the Oval in a Twenty20 Earthquake Relief match that raised funds for the victims of last October's destruction in Pakistan.

Tendulkar opened with Brian Lara, putting on 72 for the first wicket, faced 26 balls, hitting eight fours and a six and showing little discomfort from his injury.

The surgery in March forced Tendulkar to miss India's recent series in the Caribbean but he looked to have made a good recovery as he top-scored in the International XI's 123 from ten overs after the start had been delayed by rain.

Dravid, captaining the International side, said: "It was great to see him bat like that, good to see him bat with Lara and to see him hitting the ball again.

"He was striking it really well and there was never any doubt that he would be back."

Tendulkar could play in the triangular One-day tournament in Sri Lanka in August before the ICC Champions' Trophy that takes place in India in October.

Dravid added: "Batting was never going to be a problem for him and I don't know what the doctor will say but we still have a month to go.

"When the time comes I am sure that Sachin and the doctor will take the best decision for the Indian side.

"The ICC Champions Trophy is going to be a big event and the people in India will follow it very closely and get behind it."

Tendulkar's innings was slightly overshadowed by Shahid Afridi, the Pakistani allrounder who helped his side to a six wicket win by smashing 41 from 12 balls with five sixes.

Afridi hit his first four balls, from Zaheer Khan, for three sixes and a four and greeted Scott Styris by hitting his first two balls into the crowd before holing out to a good catch by Lara at short fine leg.

Inzamam ul Haq finished the job off with 36 not out as Pakistan warmed up for Thursday's first Test by successfully chasing 123.

"I really enjoyed it," said Dravid. "It was great to be given the opportunity to play here. We don't have Twenty20 in Indian domestic cricket and it definitely has a place but we have got to be careful it does not dilute the 50 over cricket."

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