Friday 17 October 2008 

Tendulkar Becomes Test Cricket's Leading Run-Scorer


India
311-5 (Tendulkar 88, Gambhir 67, Ganguly 54no, Johnson 3-68) v Australia
| Pictures
Airtel Border-Gavaskar Trophy, 2nd Test, Mohali, day one
By John Pennington

The PCA Sports Stadium in Mohali stood as one to acclaim Sachin Tendulkar as he became the leading run-scorer in Test match cricket one ball into the third session of play in the second Test between India and Australia.

He went on to make 88, rebuilding India's innings alongside Saurav Ganguly, unbeaten overnight on 54, before leaving to a second standing ovation having become the first man to pass 12,000 Test runs.

He stroked ten fours and looked poised to register a 10th Test century against Australia but fell when he pushed at Peter Siddle, the man who offered up the record-breaking run, and was well held low down at slip by Matthew Hayden.

"It has taken me 19 years to get the record," he said at the close of play. "It has been a fantastic journey. There have been ups and downs in the process of success," he added.

Almost unnoticed in the shadow of Tendulkar's brilliance, Ganguly passed 7,000 Test runs and his own half-century as the pair added 142 for the fifth wicket. There were just four boundaries in Ganguly's innings and after he was lucky that umpire Rudi Koertzen decided not to refer a stumping appeal upstairs, he was well shielded by nightwatchman Ishant Sharma, unbeaten on two overnight.

Fireworks and handshakes greeted the deftest of late cuts off of Siddle that got Tendulkar past 11,953 Test runs, but the celebrations could not mask the fact that Australia hold the upper hand as prior to tea, India lost three wickets for 17 runs in a 15-minute period.

After two half-century partnerships in which Gautam Gambhir (67) was the common denominator, Rahul Dravid (39) was bowled by Brett Lee, Gambhir was caught behind off of Mitchell Johnson and the same bowler then had VVS Laxman caught down the leg-side for 12.

The tone for the opening exchanges was set when Gambhir straight drove Lee for four to get off the mark. On a pitch that has good carry and true bounce, the batsmen cashed in on anything loose, although Sehwag played and missed a couple of times early on at new man Peter Siddle, in the side after Stuart Clark's elbow injury.

Siddle announced himself to Test cricket by hitting Gambhir on the helmet with his first ball before allowing Sehwag to get off the mark with a flick behind square for a boundary. Gambhir showed no aversion to the blow on the head - rather the opposite was true as he kept pace with Sehwag, although he did face more balls.

The two batsmen drove exquisitely, Sehwag caressing the ball through the covers with ease and Gambhir latching onto anything fractionally overpitched and Sehwag punished Siddle for straying onto his pads with two more boundaries to midwicket as Ricky Ponting found himself battling to stem the flow of boundaries.

The breakthrough for the tourists came when Sehwag gloved a legside delivery from Mitchell Johnson to wicket-keeper Brad Haddin having made 35.

Dravid became the third batsman to get off the mark with a boundary before Gambhir reached his half-century by twice dancing down the track and lofting Michael Clarke down the ground in the last over before the break.

It was a difficult session for Australia's bowlers, Lee going for 36 from his six overs as India reigned supreme, Gambhir striking eight boundaries in all.

Things were looking ominous for Australia after the break with Gambhir adding another boundary and Dravid overcoming recent poor form and any number of fielders on the onside to frustrate Australia further.

Then came Australia's 15 minutes of brilliance, inspired by a testing spell from Mitchell Johnson which began with a misjudgement from Dravid, who cut Lee onto his leg stump.

Gambhir looked to unleash another trademark drive but only succeeded in feathering an edge to Haddin with no addition to the score and Laxman's punchy innings ended in near identical fashion to Sehwag's when he edged to Haddin, who made no mistake.

After the mini-collapse and a necessary rebuilding process both Tendulkar and Ganguly played some exquisite strokes, Tendulkar in particular being severe on Cameron White but both men were equally happy to take the singles on offer when Ricky Ponting went defensive. The second new ball gave Tendulkar a sniff of another century as he hit Siddle for consecutive fours but it was not to be.

This was Tendulkar's day, although his wicket late on means that the match is tantalisingly poised and the home side need big runs from Ganguly and the lower order if they are to make best use of winning the toss and batting first.

The series is level at 0-0 after the draw in Bangalore with three matches remaining and India are captained by Mahendra Singh Dhoni after Anil Kumble was unable to take his place in the line up, replaced by leg-spinner Amit Mishra.

India: Gautam Gambhir, Virender Sehwag, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, VVS Laxman, Saurav Ganguly, Mahendra Singh Dhoni (captain & wicket-keeper), Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan, Amit Mishra, Ishant Sharma

Australia: Matthew Hayden, Simon Katich, Ricky Ponting (captain), Mike Hussey, Michael Clarke, Shane Watson, Brad Haddin (wicket-keeper), Cameron White, Brett Lee, Mitchell Johnson, Peter Siddle

© Cricket World 2008