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Tendulkar steadies India with unbeaten 62

Published: Thursday, November 6, 2008, 14:59 [IST]
 
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NAGPUR:
Sachin Tendulkar struck a solid half-century as India recovered from a mini-collapse to reach 202-3 at tea on the opening day of the fourth and final Test against Australia here Thursday.

The middle-order batsman (62 not out) put on 86 for the fourth wicket with Venkatsai Laxman after the home side lost three wickets in the space of 18 runs in the morning session.

Laxman, who became the eighth Indian to figure in 100 Tests, was unbeaten on 34 at the break.

India were comfortably placed at 98 without loss before slipping to 116-3 on a good batting pitch, but Tendulkar and Laxman steadied the innings with their responsible knocks.

Debutant off-spinner Jason Krejza pegged India back by taking two key wickets in three overs, dismissing a free-stroking Virender Sehwag (66) and former captain Rahul Dravid for a duck.

Tendulkar and Laxman then denied Australia further success, scoring with ease against both pace and spin on a flat track. Tendulkar has so far hit eight fours in his 52nd Test half-century.

India were off to a blazing start after new captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni won the toss and elected to bat, with Sehwag dominating a 98-run stand for the opening wicket with debutant Murali Vijay (33).

Sehwag was in punishing mood, driving fast bowler Brett Lee for a four in the first over before hitting left-arm seamer Mitchell Johnson for two boundaries in an over.

Australia had to wait for more than an hour for their first success, with seamer Shane Watson providing the breakthrough when he had Vijay caught behind with a lifting delivery.

Krejza, smashed for a four and a six off successive deliveries by Sehwag in his opening over, came back strongly when he had Dravid caught by Simon Katich at short-leg with a delivery that turned and bounced.

The 25-year-old spinner celebrated again when he removed Sehwag, bowled off an inside-edge while attempting to cut. Sehwag hit one six and nine fours in a 69-ball knock -- his 16th Test half-century.

The hosts made two changes from the side that drew the previous New Delhi Test, bringing in Vijay and fit-again spinner Harbhajan Singh in place of the retired Anil Kumble and banned Gautam Gambhir.

Australia made one change, replacing seamer Stuart Clark with Krejza.

The Test, the first to be played at this ground, is the last for former skipper Sourav Ganguly.

India lead 1-0 in the series following their 320-run win in the second Test in Mohali. The matches in Bangalore and New Delhi were drawn.

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