Sachin slams fifty, India 202/3 at tea

Published: Thursday, November 6, 2008, 15:27 [IST]
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Nagpur: Batting maestro Sachin Tendulkar along with V V S Laxman put on an unbroken 86 run partnership for the fourth wicket to give India the upper hand at tea on the first day of the fourth and final Test against Australia here today.

At the break, Sachin Tendulkar with 62 runs and VVS Laxman with 34 runs were still at the crease with India on 202 for the loss of three wickets.

India are already one up in this four match series with Australia needing to win this last one to equalise the series and keep the Border-Gavaskar Trophy.

Resuming on the lunch score of 122 for three, the two senior batsmen showed how to play on a wicket which had already started offering quite a lot of spin to the slow bowlers along with bounce.

Sachin Tendulkar and V V S Laxman played sensibly not taking any risks and at the same time kept the scoreboard moving with ones and twos. Both the batsmen treated the bowling on merit and kept their wickets intact showing impeccable defensive technique while at the same time not missing out any chances to score runs.

The Australian captain kept on Krejza from one end, while rotating his three pronged pace attack from the other end, but there was no luck for the Aussies as both Laxman and Tendulkar played the bowling without having much trouble.

With both the batsmen refusing to take risks, there were still a few gems with Laxman flicking Krejza to the midwicket fence off a ball which pitched outside off and turned sharply towards leg and then the Hyderabadi also straight drove Brett Lee to the long off fence.

Tendulkar at the other end played impeccably as he brought up his 50 in 65 balls which included eight boundaries.

Ponting inexplicably brought on leg-spinner Cameroon White on only in the last half hour before tea with the pitch already offering some turn and bounce on the first day itself. By the time White was brought on, both Laxman and Tendulkar had got their eye in and though the leg spinner was getting some turn, both the batsmen had no problem in negotiating it.

Earlier, India after electing to bat first were given a flying start by Virender Sehwag and debutant M Vijay with the two adding 98 runs for the first wicket. Sehwag seemed to toy with the Aussie attack, as he unleashed his special upper cut shot of Mitchell Johnson for a boundary to the third man and then following it up with a superb flick in the same over to the midwicket fence.

At the other end, Vijay seemed to be gaining in confidence as he soaked in the atmosphere of Test cricket essaying the copybook coverdrive of Aussie pace spearhead Brett Lee.

Sehwag was lucky as he was dropped by Ricky Ponting in the slips of Shane Watson with the score reading 50 for no loss and Sehwag on his personal score of 28.

Debutant off spinner Jason Krejza was then introduced in the 13th over and immediately Sehwag went after him lofting him for a four and then a huge six over long on. The attacking Indian batsman soon reached his 50, which came in just 45 balls and was inclusive of seven boundaries and a six.

However, Krejza, who was taken to the cleaners in his first few overs by Sehwag making the decision to play him for Stuart Clark look like a mistake, repaid the faith of his captain after Watson had broken through the opening partnership by removing Vijay being caught behind by Brad Haddin of a short pitched delivery.

Rahul Dravid, the next man in, continued with his wretched form as he was dismissed by Krejza for his first Test wicket, when Dravid gave a simple bat pad catch to forward short leg where Simon Katich made no mistake. Dravid made 0 with India on 99 for two.

Krejza then struck a body blow of India by getting rid of Sehwag, who tried to cut a delivery from Krejza which was too close to his body. The ball took the edge of the bat onto the stumps. Sehwag made 66 in just 69 balls with nine hits to the fence and a huge six.

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