MADRAS, India, AFP
Sachin Tendulkar feasted on the Australian bowling to hit a brilliant 126 as India took an 89-run lead in the decisive final Test at the Chepauk here on Tuesday. The batting champion’s 25th Test century, his sixth against Australia, helped the Indians recover from early losses to pile up 480-9 by stumps on the third day. Australia, who made 391 in their first innings, went on the back foot after Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid (81) put on 169 for the fifth wicket in three hours of glorious strokeplay. Both batsmen fell in the final session of a hot and humid day, playing tired shots off fast bowler Jason Gillespie to be caught behind by wicket-keeper Adam Gilchrist. That triggered a lower order collapse as India, 453-4 at one stage, lost five wickets towards the end to set up an enthralling contest over the last two days to break the 1-1 series deadlock. Tendulkar delighted a sell-out crowd of 45,000 by smashing 15 boundaries and two sixes on his favourite hunting ground. He has hit four centuries in five Test appearances here.
But the 27-year-old was angry with himself for getting out when he had the Australians on the run. India, resuming at the overnight score of 211-1 slipped to 237-3 when fast bowler Glenn McGrath removed Shiv Das (84) with the first ball of the morning and Venkatsai Laxman (65) in his fourth over. Captain Sourav Ganguly helped Tendulkar carry the score to 284 until he fell soon after lunch, edging McGrath to Gilchrist for 22. Dravid, who made 180 in the second Test at Calcutta, which India won to level the three-match series 1-1, joined Tendulkar to flay the Australian attack in the next two sessions. As Tendulkar demolished the attack, Australia were left to rue a missed catch by Michael Slater when the batsman was on 82 and the total 396-4. Tendulkar skied Colin Miller to deep mid-wicket where Slater came under the ball, got both hands to it, but spilled the sitter. Tendulkar drew level with Australian captain Steve Waugh’s tally of 25 Test centuries, fifth behind record-holder Sunil Gavaskar of India (34), Australian legends Don Bradman (29) and Allan Border (27), and West Indian great Gary Sobers (26).