Chennai, Feb 23: Playing his first match for India since retiring from One Day Internationals, Sachin Tendulkar returned to form with a fluent half century on the second day of the first Test against Australia on Saturday.
Tendulkar's knock helped India make a strong reply to the visitors' 380 and in the Master Blaster's company two other youngsters Cheteshwar Pujara and Virat Kohli blossomed. Kohli completed his 6th Test half century in the last over of the day and is 50 not out (84 balls, 7x4).
At stumps on the second day, India recovered from 12/2 to be at 182/3 in 52 overs. They trail by 198 runs. Tendulkar, searching for his first Test hundred in more the two years, was unbeaten on 71 (128 balls, 6x4). This was Tendulkar's 67 fifty in Tests.
Tendulkar-Kohli unbroken partnership is now worth 77.
During today's knock, Tendulkar completed 7,000 runs in India and also crossed 3,500 runs against Australia.
Right from the first ball he faced, Tendulkar showed signs of being at ease. The first ball from James Pattinson was sent to the cover boundary and from there onwards he was in control.
Tendulkar quit ODIs in December, 2012 and had displayed his hunger for runs in the Irani Cup earlier this month by striking a century for Mumbai. That form continued for the Master here too.
Chennai is one of Tendulkar's favourite grounds. He has already scored five hundreds and now have gone past 950 runs at this venue in 10 games. The Chennai crowd applauded each and every shot of Tendulkar.
For Australia, fast bowler Pattinson took all three wickets. He was used for only six overs (three-over spells twice) and bowled consistently above 145kmph. Offspinner Nathan Lyon had a tough day with 0/55 in 14 overs.
At tea, India 84/2
Tendulkar and Pujara led India's fightback after Pattinson had removed openers early.
Pattinson, bowling at good pace, first bowled Murali Vijay and soon sent back Virender Sehwag in same fashion. India were 12/2 and it was left to Tendulkar and Pujara to take them to safety till tea where they reached 84/2 in 22 overs.
Tendulkar got off the mark with a delightful cover drive to the fence. He had two more boundaries in the same Pattinson over and was looking good at 38 at the interval. Pujara too was in fine nick, unbeaten on 33.
At lunch, Australia 380 all out
R Ashwin finished with Test career best bowling figures of 7/103 as Australia were bowled out for 380 on the second day of the first Test here on Saturday.
Play was extended for half hour with nine wickets down and India bowled the opposition out by 11.45AM and with that it was lunch. Ashwin took the final wicket of Nathan Lyon, caught at legslip by Virat Kohli. It was an excellent bowling performance by the local boy.
Indians had to wait till the 25th over of the day to taste success. Michael Clarke, attempting for a lofted shot fell to Ravindra Jadeja, caught by Bhuvneshwar Kumar at long-off. He made 130, highest score by an Australian captain in India.
Harbhajan Singh got a wicket in his 100th Test when he had Peter Siddle caught by Virender Sehwag at slip. Clarke and Siddle added 54 runs for the eighth wicket. It was a much better show by Harbhajan today. He ended with figures of 1/87.
After the first day where both India and Australia shared the honours, the second day's play in the first Test got under way on Saturday.
It will be up to captain Michael Clarke to take his team past 350 as they resumed from 316/7 from Friday. He has Peter Siddle for company. Clarke is batting on 103 while Siddle is on 1.
On the other hand, India will be hoping to restrict Australia under 350. R Ashwin will be keen to add to his tally of six wickets. Harbhajan Singh, in his 100th Test, was unimpressive on Friday. He needs to come good today.