India v Australia 2008-09 / News

India v Australia, 4th Test, Nagpur, 1st day

Tendulkar shines on see-saw first day

The Report by Jamie Alter

November 6, 2008

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India 311 for 5 (Tendulkar 109, Sehwag 66, Laxman 64, Krejza 3-138) v Australia
Scorecard and ball-by-ball-details
How they were out


Sachin Tendulkar brought up his 40th Test hundred to lead India's rally to 311 for 5 on the opening day © Getty Images
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Almost everything Sachin Tendulkar did today - from opening his account with a brush off the pads for four, to punching gloves with VVS Laxman at lunch to strutting back after tea - pointed to a batsman full of intent. His efforts paid off, despite a run-out chance on 74 and drops on 85 and 98 off the persevering debutant Jason Krejza, as he scored his 40th Test hundred to lead India's recovery, after a pre-lunch flurry of wickets, to 311 for 5 on the opening day in Nagpur.

India lost debutant M Vijay, Rahul Dravid and Virender Sehwag in 29 deliveries towards the end of the first session before the two in-form veterans shored up the innings. For nearly three and a half hours, Tendulkar and Laxman batted gracefully for 146 runs, their stand the highlight of India's day.

Tendulkar looked at ease since replacing Dravid - out for a duck - driving straight and impregnable in defence. He was the early aggressor in the partnership with Laxman, unfurling a slog-sweep over midwicket and a lofted on-drive in one Krejza over to raise India's 150. While the faster men were driven through cover, flicked to midwicket quite fluently or on-driven with laser-like precision, the spinners were tackled with excellent footwork.

Laxman, not at his most silky and sublime, collected his runs slowly and mechanically. As in Delhi, where he stroked 259 unbeaten runs, he stood firm, as has become his trademark. Even when the ball stopped on him, Laxman relied on those supple wrists and worked Krejza over the infield. The only phase when he was troubled was during Brett Lee's second spell, when the bowler obtained a bit of reverse-swing.

The scoring rate dipped with each session, from five - after Sehwag had blazed away - to four and under, but the objective rarely wavered. The pair scurried hard singles and dispatched anything loose - of which there was plenty - and almost always picking their mark whenever they went aerial.

Tendulkar slowed down as tea approached, perhaps mindful of his mistakes in Mohali and Delhi. His teatime 62 comprised eight fours, seven of which were muscularly hit on the leg side. He still outpaced Laxman on resumption, adding another 47 in the final session. A fierce sweep from outside the off stump and over wide mid-on took Tendulkar into the eighties and he should have stayed there. Tendulkar waltzed down to Krejza, didn't get to the pitch of the ball, and Mitchell Johnson dropped a comfortable chance running back from mid-off. The next delivery, Laxman coolly went past fifty with a drive wide of sweeper-cover, but a loose shot against Krejza, making room to cut, was snapped up on the second attempt by Brad Haddin.

Proximity to his century seemed to have fired up Tendulkar, who dashed out, very untypically, against Krejza on 98 and looked on as Lee spilled a running catch at mid-off. Having spent 11 deliveries on 99, Tendulkar raised his bat in the warm Nagpur air after raising his hundred - and tenth against Australia - with a spanking cut. He hardly played a shot thereafter and fell lbw to Johnson for 109 with 15 minutes to go.

Top Curve
Smart Stats
  • Sachin Tendulkar's 109 was his 91st score of fifty or above, the highest for any batsman. He overtook Allan Border, who made 27 centuries and 63 fifties.
  • Tendulkar became the first batsman to reach 5000 runs in the first innings of Tests, and averages 72.65 for the same. His average in the fourth innings, however, is 33.60 in 55 matches.
  • Tendulkar's 40th Test century was also his tenth against Australia. Only Jack Hobbs, with 12 centuries in 41 Tests against Australia, has more.
  • VVS Laxman, during his innings of 64, went past 1000 runs in 2008. It's the most he's scored in a calendar year, the previous highest being 984 runs in 15 Tests in 2002.
  • Brett Lee averages 64.28 with the ball this series, which is his highest in the four-Test series he has played against India. He averaged 59.50 in the series against India in 2003-04 in Australia.
  • Billy Bowden became the tenth umpire to stand in fifty Tests. Steve Bucknor heads the list with 124.
  • Jason Krejza, who took 3 for 138, is just 12 runs shy of becoming the spinner to concede the most runs in an innings on debut for Australia. Shane Warne's 1 for 150 against India in Sydney in 1992 is at the top of the list.
Bottom Curve
A 98-run partnership between India's new opening pair occupied much of the morning session before Australia fought back, led by Krejza's double-strike. Sehwag took care of the new-ball threat from Johnson, driving and scooping him through backward of point, slashing him over third man, and whipping him delectably across the line. A genuine outside edge off Johnson, which bounced low in front of Matthew Hayden at first slip, when Vijay was on 11, was the nearest Australia came to a chance early on.

Sehwag's panache was complemented by Vijay's solidity on perhaps the easiest track to make your debut as a batsman. Allowed to drive on the up mid-way through the first session, he also tucked the straighter deliveries for singles that kept the score ticking. Vijay was shaping well, and India had the ideal platform, when Shane Watson struck. Sehwag looked set for a hundred, hitting nine fours and a six in his 66, but couldn't capitalise on his good start, and dragged a turning delivery from Krejza back onto his stumps shortly after Dravid fell.

One down in the series, with a highly creditable draw in Delhi following a drubbing in Mohali, Australia were aiming to salvage their bruised pride. Evenly split in pace and spin, but mellowed by another under-performing display from Lee, Australia relied on Krejza to handle the bulk of the bowling. He came in under a degree of pressure and showed enough stomach for a fight after he was mauled in his first three overs. The Tendulkar drops would have hurt, but Laxman's wicket was reward for an encouraging debut.

Lee, steady of line, lacked in speed. Watson lacked variety, and though he mixed up his pace he remained innocuous after removing Vijay. Cameron White, employed only reluctantly, turned his legbreak painfully slowly and never threatened. Johnson obtained disconcerting lift but his tendency to pitch too full made it easy for the batsmen. Over the next four days, Australia will need to be far more productive in their attempt to avoid their first series loss since 2005.

Jamie Alter is a senior sub-editor at Cricinfo

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Jamie Alter Senior sub-editor While teachers in high school droned on about Fukuyama and communism, young Jamie's mind tended to wander to Old Trafford and the MCG. Subsequently, having spent six years in the States - studying Political Science, then working for an insurance company - and having failed miserably at winning any cricket converts, he moved back to India. No such problem in Bangalore, where he can endlessly pontificate on a chinaman who turned it around with a flipper, and why Ricky Ponting is such a good hooker. These days he divides his time between playing office cricket and constant replenishments at one of the city's many pubs.
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