Tendulkar fires India in front

An unbeaten 154 by Sachin Tendulkar gives India control.

    Sachin Tendulkar on his way to another test century
    Sachin Tendulkar's belligerent 154 not out guided India to a 69-run first innings lead over Australia and extended his world record for most test centuries.

    Tendulkar was on 69 when India slipped to 345 for seven on the third afternoon of the second test and he only had the tailenders to help him reach his 38th test hundred and overhaul Australia's first innings of 463.

    And help him they did. Harbhajan Singh scored 63 in a 129-run eighth-wicket partnership and India's last three wickets added 187.

    Tendulkar belted 11 runs in one over after the seventh wicket fell, in a deliberate move to wrest control from the hosts.

    "I sort of stepped up the gear to get the initiative back,'' he said.

    "After that Harbhajan took over and played some good shots.

    "There were certain things that we had planned, and they worked brilliantly. The contribution by Harbhajan was extremely important.''

    When No. 11 Ishant Sharma (23) top-edged an attempted pull shot to give Brett Lee a return catch and a fifth wicket for the innings, India was out for 532.

    Lee finished with 5-119 to lead the Australian bowlers, while Mitchell Johnson and Brad Hogg had two wickets apiece.

    Openers Matt Hayden (5) and Phil Jaques (8) survived the five overs before stumps, moving Australia's second innings total to 13.

    Record attempt in doubt

    With a deficit to make up and rain predicted for the weekend, Australia's prospects of a world record-equalling 16th consecutive test win are starting to diminish.

    Australia set the record streak between October 1999 and February 2001.

    India ended that streak in Calcutta in one of the great comebacks in test cricket.

    Lee still thinks Australia has every chance of winning.

    "The first session of day four will probably be the most important session, it's going to be the telltale of the whole test match.

    "Both teams can win from this situation .... now the mind games and tactics start, that's the reason we all play test cricket. The next two days promise to be two cracking days.''

    Tendulkar resumed on the third morning on 9 and found his world-renowned touch while playing the anchor role in an 108-run fourth-wicket partnership with Sourav Ganguly.

    He drove Brad Hogg for six straight down the ground just two balls before the Australian wrist spinner broke the stand.

    Ganguly, on 67 from 78 balls, stepped down the pitch and miscued a drive directly to Mike Hussey at mid-off.

    The former India captain smashed his bat into the pitch in frustration, having wasted a start in perfect batting conditions.

    Lee then took three wickets in quick succession to have India in trouble, trapping Yuvraj Singh (12) lbw just before lunch and having Mahendra Singh Dhoni (2) and Anil Kumble (2) caught behind just after the interval.

    Those wickets gave Adam Gilchrist his 400th and 401st test dismissals,
    making him only the second wicketkeeper to reach the milestone, and seemingly put Australia in control.

    Sachin Tendulkar reaches 100 on his first
    attempt in 2008 [AFP]

    But keen to make amends for the 337-run loss in the first test last week, Tendulkar had other ideas and just before tea he brought up his hundred, extending his record to four more centuries than any player in test history.


    He arched his back, raised his helmet and bat up, looked to the sky, then embraced Harbhajan in mid-pitch, all to a standing ovation by the Sydney Cricket Ground crowd.

    The celebration "was a little different this time because in 2007 I missed a lot of hundreds and I didn't want that to continue, I wanted to move on,'' he said.

    "In the year 2008, the beginning of the year is extremely important.

    "It came at the right time so I am happy about that.''

    It was his third hundred at the ground, including an unbeaten 241 four years ago in the most recent test for India here, and his eighth against Australia.

    He now averages 326 at the SCG.

    He struck 14 boundaries and the six.

    Singh was the first wicket to fall in the evening session, getting a thick edge off Johnson to Hussey in the gully.

    R.P. Singh added 13 to continue Australia's frustration before Sharma's cameo, containing five boundaries, and the innings ended.

    Tendulkar attributed his success in Sydney to be being comfortable in the conditions, and to rising to the challenge of playing Australia.

    "They are the best side in the world. It's a great challenge and I've enjoyed the competition,'' he said.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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