Sachin On Course for Fairytale Farewell

LAST HURRAH...Indian players line up in respect as Sachin Tendulkar walks during a felicitation ceremony at Wankhede stadium ahead of his  last test in Mumbai on Thursday.--IANS
LAST HURRAH…Indian players line up in respect as Sachin Tendulkar walks during a felicitation ceremony at Wankhede stadium ahead of his last test in Mumbai on Thursday.–IANS

By Abhishek Roy

MUMBAI, Nov 14 — India’s batting great Sachin Tendulkar on Thursday kept alive hopes of a big farewell knock with an unfinished 38 on the first day of the second cricket Test against the West Indies at the Wankhede Stadium here.

Tendulkar and Cheteshwar Pujara (34 not out) strung an unbeaten 80-run partnership for the third wicket to take India to 157 for two at stumps after Pragyan Ojha (5/40) and Ravichandran Ashwin (3/45) justified their captain’s decision to put West Indies in to bat by dismissing them for 182 in the first innings in 55.2 overs in less than two sessions.

A double strike by spinner Shane Shillingford to dismiss openers Shikhar Dhawan (33) and Murali Vijay (43) had left the hosts at 77 for two before Tendulkar and Pujara resurrected the innings.

Dhawan was the aggressive of the two and went after the West Indies bowling hitting seven fours in his 28-ball knock. Murali followed him soon. Both fell to off-spinner Shillingford (2/46)in the space of two balls.

Never before has the fall of Indian wickets been cheered so wildly by the fans at home.

The crowd was getting impatient to see Tendulkar. It was exactly at 3.30 p.m. when the master blaster walked down the stairs of the dressing room.

The master had his customary look at the sky and he got a standing ovation from the 25,000 working day Wankhede crowd. The West Indies team stood in a guard of honour as the giant screen displayed the images of the cricketing legend’s childhood.

What followed was pure entertainment for the fans as Tendulkar was in sublime touch. Every run he took, every boundary he struck, was wildly cheered by the fans and these strokes will remain etched in their memory for ever.

The 40-year-old brought the high-flying Shillingford to ground with two superbly timed fours in the 18th over, the first past point and the next past mid-off.

In the next over, he struck pacer Shannon Gabriel through the covers for his third four. For the puritans it was sheer delight.

The crowd went euphoric as Tendulkar drove down West Indies skipper Darren Sammy for a four through mid-on, that also brought up 150 for India. As he walked off the ground, Tendulkar raised the bat to acknowledge applause all round.

Earlier, Ojha and Ashwin proved too good for the West Indian batsmen on a pitch that offered sharp turn and bounce. An early tea was taken when Ojha had Gabriel caught behind for the sixth five-wicket haul of his career.

The West Indies, who went for lunch at 93 for two, lost their eight wickets for a mere 89 runs.

The crowd, which looked disappointed when Mahendra Singh Dhoni opted to field, had plenty to cheer about in the afternoon session when Ojha and Ashwin made sure that Tendulkar could get to bat on the first day.

Kieran Powell (48) was caught at short leg off Ojha minutes after the break and the rest of the West Indies batsmen failed to put up any fight, though all their mainline batsmen got good starts.

Shivnarine Chanderpaul, playing his 150th Test, departed after making 25 off 34 balls. The Windies great was off the mark with a six but his stay ended after he edged one off Bhuvneshwar Kumar to the second slip.

Sammy came in with his team reeling at 162 for six. He went for a big heave at the second ball he faced and ended up in a regulation catch for Rohit Sharma. It was Ashwin’s 100th Test wicket, making him the fastest in this category in post-war Test cricket.

It was hard to see Windies falling like a pack of cards after a decent morning session when Powell and Bravo battled it out with aggression and determination.–IANS


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