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Australia v India, 2nd Test, Sydney, 3rd day
'Tomorrow's first session crucial'
January 4, 2008
Sachin Tendulkar's century gives India the lead but the first session tomorrow could decide the outcome of the Test
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Ravi Shastri: "Sachin Tendulkar's innings was very measured - he knew exactly what he was doing" © Getty Images

Akhila Ranganna: Hello and welcome to Cricinfo Talk. I have with me former captain of India Ravi Shastri to look back on what was an exciting day of cricket at the SCG.

Ravi, it was Sachin Tendulkar's day. A terrific innings from him, especially the way he paced his knock.

Ravi Shastri: Yes, I think it was a treat for everyone who came out to the Sydney Cricket Ground. It looks as if he owns this piece of real estate and he batted beautifully. I thought it was a very measured innings. He knew exactly what he was looking for and by the end of the day's play he knew exactly what the gameplan was and where India should be at stumps. He controlled his innings beautifully.

AR: A lot of credit must be given to Harbhajan Singh - just like Brad Hogg provided crucial support to Andrew Symonds in Australia's first innings, Harbhajan provided invaluable support to Tendulkar.

RS: He has the talent, there's no question about that. It's just the application that comes under question at certain times. But the fact that Tendulkar must have told him, "Listen there's a chance here of getting a lead and let's ensure you stay and hang around with me to make that happen." It did happen and Harbhajan played some very good shots. Initially when he came out, you got the impression he was going to have a go at every ball. But once a couple of shots hit the middle of the bat, I guess he himself realised: 'here's an opportunity for me to make a decent contribution'.

AR: The Indian tail showed a lot of resistance, the last three wickets added 187. It would have been easy for the Indian shoulders to drop, considering the pounding they had received in the first innings.

RS: No [we didn't see that] and that's thanks to Tendulkar and don't forget [Sourav] Ganguly this morning. I thought he batted magnificently. He will be kicking himself for the way he got out because the way he is batting, there was a 100 for the taking there as well. Yes India had a hiccup on either side of lunch losing Yuvraj [Singh] and [Mahendra Singh] Dhoni but it was good to see the tail stayed with Tendulkar and ensured India added close to 200 runs. But I thought Tendulkar was the star, he was like a rock. He knew exactly what was happening and like I mentioned earlier, he played a very measured innings. At no stage did he look ruffled. He looked very composed and the big thing to see was the excitement when he got his 100. It was relief because he had been out in the 90s a few times. He should have had another five or six Test 100s in the last seven or eight months but that didn't happen. It was a huge sigh of relief when he eventually reached his 38th Test hundred.

AR: You just spoke about Yuvraj and Dhoni - two batsmen from whom a lot was expected, but they haven't really got a start. Is there any cause for worry for India?

RS: I don't think there's a cause for worry but there's so much competition at the moment for places in the Indian side that you have to be consistent if you want to hold your place. Even if you look at someone like VVS Laxman, he's been under pressure every game that he has played because there is no respite in that middle order with Ganguly, Tendulkar and [Rahul] Dravid performing all the time. And if you drop your guard in any sort of way when you are given the opportunity, it will open the door for somebody else. Don't forget, there are people like [Virender] Sehwag and Dinesh Karthik sitting in the reserves. So you've got to grab the opportunity with both hands and both those players [Yuvraj and Dhoni] will be disappointed.

AR: A lead of 69 on a pitch that will assist the spinners - how crucial will this lead prove to be, considering for the first time in this series India are ahead?

RS: It's always good to have a lead but I think the first session of play [tomorrow] is going to decide the outcome of the game. I mean there could be three results possible here: a draw looks like the most likely; or an Australian win or Indian win. I say the first session is crucial because India have to take wickets. Their body language should suggest they are trying to win this game. If Australia have a good first session, then I think they will call the shots. What India don't want is to get in to a position where they are looking to draw the game and in trying to do that, get over-cautious and lose some early wickets and allow the pressure to build.

AR: Ravi, than you so much for your views, we'll here from you again tomorrow.

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