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India top bats ablaze

BEA DOTTIN, [email protected]

India top bats ablaze

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MUMBAI – Sachin Tendulkar was on course for his 100th international century while Rahul Dravid completed a milestone to lead India’s strong reply in the third and final cricket Test against West Indies yesterday.
The hosts, chasing an imposing first-innings total of 590 by West Indies, were 281 for three at the close of the third day with Tendulkar (67) and VVS Laxman (32) at the crease.
The 38-year-old Tendulkar, with 51 centuries in Tests and 48 in one-dayers, needs one more to get to the coveted ton that has eluded him since he last made three figures in the 50-over World Cup in April.
Playing in front of a crowd of 20 000 at his home Wankhede Stadium ground, the master batsman hit five boundaries and a six as he added 57 for the fourth wicket with Laxman.
“We will have a full house with the little master on 67 but the big crowd might have some broken hearts tomorrow,” smiling West Indies captain Darren Sammy told reporters.
“This Test match is really poised. We have someone who is about to cross a massive, special mark.”
Tendulkar’s only blemish came when he edged leg-spinner Devendra Bishoo on 58 but wicketkeeper Carlton Baugh failed to hold on to the tough chance.
Dravid (82) became the second player after Tendulkar to reach 13 000 runs in Tests, and also brought up 1 000 runs in a year for the third time in his career as he made his 62nd half-century.
He added 86 runs for the third wicket with Tendulkar before being clean bowled while attempting to cut part-time spinner Marlon Samuels.
The 38-year old Dravid also put on 71 for the second wicket with Gautam Gambhir (55) after India lost Virender Sehwag (37) before the lunch break.
Dravid went past the 13 000-mark with a sublime cover drive off Sammy, one of his 11 boundaries.
Gambhir hit eight boundaries before he edged to Baugh after trying to hook a high bouncer by paceman Ravi Rampaul.
The left-handed opener was optimistic India could still make it a 3-0 series whitewash.
“We all know things change very quickly in India and especially on red soil once the ball starts turning,” Gambhir said. “We still feel there is a chance of winning the Test match rather than just saving it.
“We’ve got two quality spinners in our line-up, and once the ball starts turning, it’s very difficult for the opposition to handle.”
Sehwag began in typically explosive fashion, striking three fours and a six before he was bowled by Sammy.
Medium-pacer Sammy, who was swatted for a six by Sehwag in his first over, managed to breach the batsman’s defence with a ball that moved back off the pitch after the openers had put on 67.
Sehwag and Gambhir took India past 50 in 11 overs but the hosts slowed considerably after the fall of the first wicket, adding seven runs in 4.3 overs up to the break.
Earlier, India off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin completed his second five-wicket haul in three Tests as West Indies were finally bowled out in the morning.
Resuming on 575 for nine, the visitors added 15 runs in 3.1 overs before Bishoo was bowled for 12 by Ashwin.
Ashwin, 25, who grabbed a maiden five-wicket haul on his debut in the first Test in Delhi, finished with five for 156 from 52.1 overs. (CMC)