March 20, 2001

Tendulkar waltzes away to his 25th Test hundred

India were 480/9 at the end of the third day's play in the third and final Test match against Australia at the MA Chidambaram Stadium, Chennai, on Tuesday. They lead by 89 runs going into the fourth day tomorrow. India scored 269 runs, losing eight wickets in the 90 overs bowled today.

India resumed at a commanding score of 211/1. But Glenn McGrath drew first blood for Australia with the very first ball of the day; SS Das trapped in front of the wicket on his overnight score of 84. In the seventh over of the day, McGrath went on to dismiss VVS Laxman (65), caught by Mark Waugh at second slip.

Sourav Ganguly who had a tense stay at the crease before lunch, troubled by Gillespie's pace and bounce, was the next man to be dismissed. He made 22 runs off 76 balls and never looked convincing today, before playing a flashy shot outside the off stump to give Gilchrist a simple catch off the bowling of McGrath.

Meanwhile, Sachin Tendulkar was cruising along watchfully, punishing the loose balls to the fence. Rahul Dravid who joined him in the middle was in attacking mood as the two batsmen went on reaping runs off some listless Aussie bowling in the post lunch session. Dravid's good form was evident in his stroke play and in the assurance he has shown in the middle as he smashed Gillespie for a straight six.

Soon after tea, Tendulkar lofted Colin Miller to the mid-wicket fence; the mistimed stroke went up in the air straight to Michael Slater. But Slater misjudged the flight of the ball completely and over ran forward to miss out an opportunity to dismiss the most sought after wicket in international cricket. Slater's misery in the field on this tour was truly compounded.

Aussies were losing their way as Gilchrist failed to latch on to a leg side catch offered by Dravid off the bowling of Gillespie. Tendulkar reached his 25th Test hundred in grand style, lofting Miller for a straight six. The crowd got to their feet to applaud the little master.

Jason Gillespie was bowling with a big heart and rewards were due to him. Gilchrist and Gillespie got together to dismiss Dravid and Tendulkar in the space of 26 balls. Dravid made 81 attractive runs off 140 balls with the help of six and a dozen boundaries. He and Tendulkar added 169 runs for the fifth wicket in 42.2 overs.

Tendulkar waltzed his way to 126, punctuating his knock with two sixes and 15 boundaries before being dismissed. The highlight of his innings were the three fours he scored off an over from Shane Warne. There were two little gems to the fine leg fence off Warne who was bowling around the wicket. This prompted Warne to bowl a bouncer and Tendulkar dispatched it to the third man fence with a stylish upper-cut.

Gillespie's telling spell of 7-4-15-2 made a difference to the outcome of the day's play, enabling a late order collapse of the Indian innings. Warne who bowled well all through the day was at last rewarded with the wicket of Sameer Dighe (4), trapped in front of the wicket.

Colin Miller who had trundled all along, being whacked to the fence by Tendulkar and Dravid, managed to get amongst wickets. In fact he claimed two, Zaheer Khan (4) caught and bowled and Harbhajan Singh (2) caught by Mark Waugh at slip. At close of play, Sairaj Bahatule was unbeaten on four with Nilesh Kulkarni who is yet to open his account.