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Marathon man at it again

cricket Updated: Jan 05, 2011 03:10 IST
Subhash Rajta
Subhash Rajta
Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

It was surely not as authoritative a century as many of his others, but still a brilliant one considering the attack and in the context of the match.

The Cape Town crowd couldn't have asked for more. The Test has barely moved beyond the halfway mark, and they have already seen performances that they will remember and cherish for their lifetime.

A day after their beloved Jacques Kallis and Sreesanth --- the one they love to hate --- regaled them with extraordinary efforts, they were in for a treat with Sachin Tendulkar and Dale Steyn dishing out spectacular stuff.

The Indian maestro raised the mountain of his centuries a notch higher by adding one more to it, even as the South African paceman came up with an astonishing display of swing bowling. Steyn breathed fire all day and swung the ball so menacingly that India should consider themselves lucky to have finished at 364, two runs ahead of South Africa. The hosts, in reply, were 52 for 2 at stumps. See pics

It was the gruelling contest between the two that kept the crowd on the edge of their seats. The face-off started the moment Steyn beat Tendulkar with the very first delivery of the morning. Even as the South African charged in liked an enraged bull, Tendulkar soaked in the pressure and treaded on.

If the first encounter between the two in the morning session was intense, the one on either side of lunch was classic. Tendulkar, by then, had quickly moved to 94 from 59. Statistics

What Steyn came up with in this six-over spell --- two before lunch and four after it --- could easily go down as one of the most ferocious displays of swing bowling. He swung the ball away from almost leg stump at such high speed that it looked almost surreal. Tendulkar, however, weathered the storm. He brought up his century with a top-edged six off Morkel.

On the other end, action went on predictable lines. It was Cheteshwar Pujara and MS Dhoni who had the misfortune of facing the on-fire Steyn in this spell. And they didn't take long to return to the secure environs of the dressing room.

Before the Steyn storm blew them away, India were struck by misfortune as VVS Laxman found himself stranded outside his crease when Paul Harris directed a thundering drive from Tendulkar onto the stumps at the non-striker's end. Gautam Gambhir, who scored an edgy but valiant 93, fell to Paul Harris.

Tendulkar, meanwhile, appeared to have gained control over Steyn when he came in for his third spell. He looked far more authoritative after his hundred. Tendulkar's valiant vigil (146) came to an end with Morkel disturbing his stumps. But by then he had already scripted another master class.

In pics: Sachin's century

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51 tons and rising |

Sachin unplugged

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See scorecard