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Hitting home stretch

India inch towards victory after a see-saw battle, Tendulkar eyes special hundred. Nikhilesh Bhattacharya reports. Scorecard | Sachin past 15,000 Test runs | Taste of a thriller | Highest totals chased down at Kotla | Kotlanama

india Updated: Nov 09, 2011 02:49 IST
Nikhilesh Bhattacharya

Rookie off-spinner R Ashwin introduced another twist to the Kotla tale on Tuesday before assured top-order batting got India within 124 runs of what promises to be a hard-fought come-from-behind victory against West Indies in the first Test here.







India may be two wickets down, but they could not have planned to have a better pair at the crease when play starts on Day 4.



Sachin Tendulkar notched up another milestone during his unbeaten innings of 33, completing 15,000 runs in Tests. With him is Rahul Dravid, second on the list and nearing 13,000 runs.http://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/HTEditImages/Images/09_11_metro18a.jpg

Both have got their eye in and will know what to do on a pitch which holds no demons apart from low bounce. Who knows, Tendulkar may even get to his hundredth international hundred.

The platform was laid by the openers. Gautam Gambhir and Virender Sehwag did not score as quickly as in the first innings, but looked more assured. Sehwag batted on after Gambhir's dismissal as India quickly ate into their target of 276.

Ashwin's day out
If the batsmen manage to get India across the line, they must thank Ashwin for getting them into a winning position.

Starting the day 116 runs ahead with eight second-innings wickets in hand, West Indies would have wanted to bat India out of the match.

They could not despite another good innings from Shivnarine Chanderpaul and some lusty hitting from captain Darren Sammy because of Ashwin, who picked six wickets in the innings for a match haul of nine.

Bowlers shine
Coming into the first Test of the winter, each member of the four-man Indian attack had something to prove.

Three days and two West Indies innings later, all of them had indicated they belonged at this level.http://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/HTEditImages/Images/09_11_metro18b.jpg

Captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni handled them well, using them in spells of different lengths. He kept men to stop the singles, but by not attacking too much ensured that India did not leak runs.

Dhoni had given the new ball to the spinners when the West Indies began their second innings late on Monday, but got Ishant Sharma to bowl the first over on Day 3.

The pacer, returning from an ankle injury that will need surgery at some point, responded by removing nightwatchman Fidel Edwards.

Fellow pacer Umesh Yadav was used in short spells and got his first Test wickets.

Of the two spinners, Dhoni kept Ashwin on longer than first-innings hero Pragyan Ojha, who was not troubling the batsmen enough.

The off-spinner repaid the faith with what can be a match-winning performance.

http://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/HTEditImages/Images/09_11_pg01a.jpg