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Sachin races past Sunny, smashes 35th Test ton

The master blaster created history by becoming the highest century-getter as India laid the foundation for a mammoth first innings total in the second cricket Test against Sri Lanka in New Delhi. Way to 100 | Kotla dossier

india Updated: Dec 11, 2005 01:00 IST

Sachin Tendulkar created history by becoming the highest century-getter as India laid the foundation for a mammoth first innings total in the second cricket Test against Sri Lanka at the Feroze Shah Kotla ground here on Saturday.

Tendulkar cracked an unbeaten 100 for his record 35th hundred, the most in Test cricket, as India reached a strong 245 for three at stumps on the opening day.

Tendulkar's seventh ton against the visitors saw him surpass former captain and compatriot Sunil Gavaskar's tally of 34 for most number of hundreds in the all-time centurions list.

Sourav Ganguly was batting on 39 at the other end after playing the supporting role to Tendulkar to perfection.

It was also Tendulkar's 125th Test appearance, again matching Gavaskar and the second highest for an Indian. Only Kapil Dev had played in more Tests, 131.

Tendulkar's innings helped India seize the initiative after skipper Rahul Dravid, suffering from illness, made a bold decision to open the innings in the absence of Virendra Sehwag who was down with a throat infection.

Tendulkar reached his century with a single off Chaminda Vaas delivery.

His three figure mark came from 177 balls after 277 minutes at the crease, and contained 13 fours and a six.

Tendulkar was somewhat circumspect in the initial phase of his innings and had to endure a testing spell of reverse swing bowling by Fernando.

There were a couple of loud shouts for leg before against Tendulkar and he was hit on the chest when the little master tried to duck a short pitched stuff that kept low.

But he middled the ball well from the outset. He employed the paddle sweep to the spinners, a shot that he had buried deep into the kit bag for long.

Later, when the pitch dried out and batting became more relaxed in the afternoon, he began to play his strokes.

He notched up his half century with a nudge to squareleg off Muralitharan and then proceeded to strike three consecutive fours off the offie.

He took a volley from around the wicket on the rise and placed it between mid off and cover, then glided the next one to third man before driving the following one on the backfoot through the cover.

Behind the composed batting was a burning intensity which was in display when he showed his disapproval when Ganguly turned down a third run.

A six-over long on off Bandara saw Tendulkar move into the 80s. A leg glance off Vaas saw him move from 93 to 97, and after an outside edge off Fernando fell short of the first slip, Tendulkar reached the milestone in the next over and threw up his arms and head in elation.

Ganguly survived a stumping chance on 11 but settled down quickly to play the support role to Tendulkar.

A cover drive off Vaas showed his good timing, and the Kolkatan was also able to pick a short pitched one from Fernando to displace it to midwicket.

The foundation was set by Laxman, though. From the moment he replaced Gautam Gambhir, out leg before in the very first over of the match, Laxman was in fine nick.

The Hyderabadi's fluent strokemaking relieved the pressure on captain Dravid, who opened the innings.

It was only the fifth match Dravid was batting at the top, the last time being four years ago at Bloemfontein on the tour of South Africa, incidentally when Sehwag made his debut.

Laxman batted 175 minutes and faced 117 balls for his 69 that contained 12 fours. He shared two half century partnerships, 54 with skipper Rahul Dravid for the second wicket, and 77 with Tendulkar for the third.

On a typical Kotla wicket, where the ball stopped and came off the pitch, Laxman timed the ball to perfection. He began with an inside edge four to thirdman fence of Chaminda Vaas but then struck the bowler twice on the off side for four in the following overs.

Dravid brought the first boundary of the innings with a straight drive to long off while Laxman's first boundary was an inside edge to third man fence, both off Vaas.

But Laxman soon showed his class with two elegant fours off Vaas two overs later. A square cut in the next over of the same bowler pointed to the batsman's top form.

Skipper Marvan Atapattu then turned to his leading bowler Muttiah Muralitharan for a breakthrough and the offie struck soon.

Dravid swept Muralitharan for a four to fineleg but then succumbed to wily off spinner with an inside edge to forward shortleg. Dravid's 24 came from 43 balls with five fours.

Laxman drove leggie Malinga Bandara to midwicket to bring up his half century. And his next boundary, a cut to backward point, saw India's hundred in the same over.

The Hyderabadi also stepped out and lofted Bandara to long on for another four before the bowler was taken out of the attack.

That he went wicketless was Fernando's misfortune.

It was Muralitharan again, whom Atapattu turned to break the partnership.

A straighter one from around the wicket that kept low found a faint edge of Laxman's bat to end a fine innings.

Ganguly walked into a cheerful applause.

The former captain looked edgy against Muralitharan and, on 11, had a reprieve when Kumar Sangakkara missed the easiest of stumping chances.

First Published: Dec 10, 2005 10:01 IST