Tendulkar equals Sir Donald Bradman's record at Port of Spain
India were 262 for four at the close of the first day's play in the second Test match against West Indies being played at the Queen's Park Oval at Port of Spain in Trinidad on Friday. The highlight of the day's play was Sachin Tendulkar scoring his 29th Test century to equal Sir Donald Bradman's record of Test hundreds. The young maestro now has only Sunil Gavaskar, with 34 Test hundreds, ahead of him.
Enjoying his share of good fortune, the batting maestro, just four days short of his 29th birthday, helped himself to an unbeaten 113 off 235 balls, punctuating his knock with 14 boundaries. Giving him company was VVS Laxman on 21.
Tendulkar missed out on a Test hundred at Georgetown, and here at Port of Spain, the world's numero uno batsman, shook off all early disappointments to play a masterly knock. There were fierce cuts, pulls, sweetly timed cover drives and those patented flicks through mid-wicket - all the ingredients of a classic Tendulkar century.
Earlier in the day, Carl Hooper won the toss and did not hesitate to put India in to bat first. On a pitch with a lot of grass on it, the West Indies opted to go in with four fast bowlers, the burly Marlon Black coming in for injured leg-spinner Mahendra Nagamootoo.
The Indian team management was forced to make the tough decision to drop their most successful bowler, Anil Kumble, to include the extra seamer - Ashish Nehra. As expected, Ajay Ratra got his first Test cap at the expense of Deep Dasgupta. The third change made by the visitors was to bring back Harbhajan Singh in place of Sarandeep Singh.
India had a new pair of batsmen walking out to open the innings in Shiv Sunder Das and Sanjay Bangar. The two batsmen could only add 18 runs for the first wicket. Mervyn Dillon trapped Das (10) plumb in front with the last ball of the seventh over. Bangar's (9) first effort as a Test opener did not go too well either; he was caught behind off Adam Sanford before reaching double figures.
Rahul Dravid, back at number three, and Tendulkar thus had a job in their hands to repair the Indian first innings. Tendulkar survived a testing over from Sanford; shaping to play a ball towards mid-wicket, he got a leading edge towards Cameron Cuffy at mid-off, but the tall fast-bowler was slow to react. In the same over, with his score on six, Tendulkar survived a very loud shout for caught behind. Umpire Asoka de Silva's decision to give Tendulkar not out was to change the complexion of the day's game.
Soon after the lunch interval, Dravid found himself not given out after padding up to a ball from the quickest bowler on the day - Marlon Black. Once again, it was umpire de Silva who gave the decision in batsman's favour.
Tendulkar was on 27 when Mervyn Dillon started to celebrate the dismissal of the master batsman, trapped plumb in front. Tendulkar must definitely have known that it was going to be his day to make a big score after seeing umpire Daryl Harper refuse the appeal.
Dravid, meanwhile, played very much in the same vein that earned him an unbeaten 144 in the first Test at Guyana. Both Dravid and Tendulkar played some handsome shots past the ropes and reached their respective half-centuries to take India safely to 156/2 at tea.
Soon after the tea break, Black slipped in a fast delivery through to knock back Rahul Dravid's off-stump. Dravid made 67 off 147 balls, striking 11 boundaries. The third-wicket stand between Dravid and Tendulkar yielded a valuable 124 runs off 33.3 overs.
Sourav Ganguly took his time to get settled even as Tendulkar started hitting the boundaries. The Indian skipper took 10 runs off one of his counterpart's overs, striking two boundaries. The two batsmen brought up the 50-run stand soon, but Ganguly (25) danced down the track to Hooper soon after, giving an easy catch to Dillon at mid-off.
The second new ball almost got rid of VVS Laxman in the manner in which he has been dismissed on so many occasions in his career; the stylish batsman, playing away from his body, edged a ball from Cuffy, but Lara was found wanting at second slip. Cuffy bowled an excellent last over to finish the day's play, beating the outside edge of both Laxman and Tendulkar; the over clearly epitomised the luckless day that the Windies bowlers had to go through.