Mohali: Sachin Tendulkar slammed a scintillating half-century as India posted a strong 321-9 in the second one-day international against arch-rivals Pakistan here.
Tendulkar, 34, fell just one run short of his century -- the third time in his career -- and shared a 173-run partnership with Gautam Gambhir (57) to prop up the Indian innings.
This was also Tendulkar's fifth dismissal in the nervous 90s this season following scores of 99, 93, 99 and 94 on the tour of Ireland and England earlier this year.
Tendulkar, playing in his record 404th one-dayer, cracked 14 fours and a six in his 91-ball knock while Gambhir hit seven fours in his sixth one-day half-century.
Both Tendulkar and Gambhir were dismissed by pacer Umar Gul (2-56), in the space of two overs, to peg back the Indian innings after captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni had elected to bat on a sporting track.
Tendulkar, in the news recently for refusing India's Test captaincy, was caught behind the wicket by Kamran Akmal diving to his right while Gambhir holed out to Shahid Afridi (1-65) at midwicket.
Tailender Harbhajan Singh scored a cameo 38 off 20 balls with two sixes and two fours after the Indians lost wickets in a heap in the last 12 overs.
Wayward Pakistani bowlers gave away a whopping 41 extras inclusive of 31 wides. Shoaib Akhtar picked 3-42 but mostly bowled from a shortened run-up and was sloppy in the field, raising doubts about his fitness.
The Indians lost opener Sourav Ganguly early when he inside edged off Akhtar on six but Tendulkar ensured there was enough entertainment for the capacity crowd on the eve of Diwali, the festival of lights.
Tendulkar was in imperious form, hitting Gul for three boundaries on the trot in the paceman's fifth over before reaching his 86th one-day fifty with a four off paceman Rao Iftikhar.
Virender Sehwag, playing his first international in five months, made 25 while Yuvraj Singh chipped in with 34.
The teams will next play in Kanpur on Sunday.
|S. Tendulkar||c Akmal b Gul||99|
|S. Ganguly||b Akhtar||6|
|G. Gambhir||c Afridi b Gul||57|
|V. Sehwag||b Afridi||25|
|Yuvraj Singh||c Gul b Tanvir||34|
|M.S. Dhoni||c Akmal b Akhtar||4|
|R. Uthappa||lbw b Tanvir||0|
|Irfan Pathan||c Yousuf b Akhtar||7|
|Harbhajan Singh||not out||38|
|Zaheer Khan||run out||9|
|Rudra Pratap Singh||not out||1|
|Extras||lb7, nb3, w31||41|
|Total||for nine wickets||321|
|Fall of wkts||1-6, 2-179, 3-186, 4-239, 5-259, 6-260, 7-266, 8-278, 9-311|
|Bowling||Akhtar 10-1-42-3 (w7, nb1)|
|Gul 10-2-56-2 (w4)|
|Tanvir 10-0-56-2 (w3, nb1)|
|Iftikhar 7-0-64-0 (w3)|
|Malik 3-0-31-0 (w1, nb1)|
|Afridi 10-0-65-1 (w4)|