Sachin smashes his way back with a century

Published: Thursday, September 14, 2006, 23:53 [IST]
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Kuala Lumpur: Master blaster Sachin Tendulkar announced his real comeback to international cricket with a scintillating century as India amassed 309 for five in their first match of the DLF Cup against the West Indies at the Kinrara Oval here today.

Tendulkar remained unbeaten on 141 off 148 balls.

The Little Champion did play a few balls in the rain-marred Unitech Cup series in Sri Lanka earlier, but this was effectively his comeback after seven months of layoff. The initial rustiness was there and Tendulkar gave a chance early on when in the second over wicketkeeper Carlton Baugh jumped in front of first slip and spilled an edge that proved very costly in the end.

But after, that it was a return of the vintage Tendulkar for a few thousand spectators at the stadium and millions watching on television sets.

Tendulkar drove, cut, pulled and showed his incredible range of shots to reach his 40th century in One Day Internationals. He didn't stop after his century but continued with a range of boundaries, including sixes, to take India to a dominating total.

Earlier, India won the toss and elected to bat first in the second ODI of the tri-series. India went into the match with five bowlers -- seamers Irfan Pathan, Ajit Agarkar, RP Singh and Munaf Patel -- including the lone spinners in Harbhajan Singh.

Skipper Rahul Dravid and Tendulkar took calculated risks to take the Indian score past fifty in the eighth over itself.

With Sehwag playing in the middle order, Tendulkar and Dravid started scoring briskly from the very beginning. Tendulkar, however, was a little edgy in the first couple of overs. In the second over, wicket keeper Baugh failed to grab a difficult chance off Fidel Edwards. But that was the only time West Indies came close to taking a wicket as Tendulkar soon launched into his belligerent self.

A sweetly timed drive on the mid wicket boundary in the third over announced his good form very soon. Tendulkar was willing to take chances and two top edges flying well over the slip cordon for boundaries kept the score board ticking fast.

Dravid also scored in boundaries that took India past fifty in 7.1 overs.

However, the pitch was playing dual nature and odd balls were keeping low while a few climbed up alarmingly. Both Dravid and Tendulkar were hit on the gloves. Tendulkar needed attention from the physio when in the 13th over he was hit by a Dwayne Smith delivery on the knuckles. Tendulkar looked in pain but continued to bat after a small break.

West Indies skipper Brian Lara introduced Smith from the pavilion end he immediately tasted success. Dravid was trapped lbw by a delivery that kept very low on 26.

Irfan Pathan then came to bat in at number three but rain stopped play briefly at the end of 15 overs and India were 79 for one when covers were brought in.

Play resumed soon after rains stopped but it started raining runs in torrents for India. Smith, who got rid of the Indian skipper, had to bear the brunt of Tendulkar's bat as he was hit for maximum on the square leg boundary.

Irfan also joined on in the fun, hitting four fours and one six in his stay at the crease. Pathan quiet enjoyed the short stuffs from the West Indian bowlers and went on to make 64 off 68 balls with six fours and two sixes before getting an inside edge on to his stumps off Chris Gayle. Pathan added 125 runs for the second wicket with Tendulkar.

Sehwag came to bat in the middle orders and immediately his fans were regaled at the sight of hard swipe for six. But the pitch was decidedly playing two-paced by then and a low keeping ball by Jerome Taylor cleaned up Sehwag's stumps. Mahendra Singh Dhoni also fell in an identical fashion to a delivery that kept low.

Tendulkar's flow was unperturbed with the regular falling of wickets at the other end. As is the sign of a champion, he adjusted his batting seeing that the ball was keeping low and waited long enough for the ball to come on to his bat and place in he gaps for runs.

Tendulkar regularly pierced the outfield too, with one shot in the 47th over when he stood under the ball and hit it on the covers for four.

Two balls later, he repeated the shot, but this time he fetched six runs. Tendulkar hit a huge six over long on to raise India's 300 in the 49th over. Yet another six was to come from his bat in the last over that stretched the Indian score beyond 300.

Suresh Raina played a cameo towards the end for a quickfire 34 off 29 balls before Smith pulled a brilliant diving catch at deep square leg.

West Indies decided to field an unchanged side from the first one day match against Australia.

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