Sachin Tendulkar scored 74 in what will likely be his final Test innings to help India into a virtually unassailable position on day two of the second and final Test against the West Indies in Mumbai.
Playing his 200th Test, Tendulkar moved from an overnight 38 to 74 before losing his wicket to Narsingh Deonarine.
However, although there was to be no fairytale farewell century for Tendulkar, thanks to Cheteshwar Pujara (113) and Rohit Sharma (111) successfully reaching three-figures scores, India were bowled out for 495.
Their dominant position in the game was further reinforced when Ravichandran Ashwin and Pragyan Ojha reduced the West Indies to 43 for three at stumps.
They trail by 270 runs after being shot out for 182 in their first innings on day one.
The people of Mumbai flocked to see only one man bat. Tendulkar was resuming his innings on 38 and a billion people expected him to score one last hundred. The stadium filled up in no time and the chants of his name grew louder with each passing delivery.
Tendulkar was majestic in his last batting effort. He gauged the morning conditions easily and started cutting loose early on, playing shots all around the wicket. Fours started to flow from his bat once more. In between, Tino Best bowled a fiery spell and engaged the Master Blaster in a handsome duel, which the latter duly won with a couple signature drives straight down the ground.
Tendulkar had reached his half-century off 91 balls, inclusive of nine fours, and was batting smoothly on 74, when the crowd was stunned. Darren Sammy pulled off a high catch at first slip, off the bowling of Narsingh Deonarine, and just like that Tendulkar’s innings was over.
It was probably the last time he batted in international cricket, given India’s strong control over the match, and the crowd, realising that, rose to its feet and saluted the Maestro one last time.
Virat Kohli walked in to the most pin-drop silence he has probably heard ever in an Indian cricket stadium, but he soon got people buzzing, as he blazed his way to 36 by lunch. His team was placed at 282 for three at the break and they just sped away on the other side. Kohli brought up his half-century off just 53 balls, but then fell seven runs later.
Pujara, on the other end, was going great guns and had reached his half-century. He had sights set on the big one and duly completed his fifth hundred. He was fifth man out, with the score at 354, and that left Sharma to once again guide the chase. He did well, farming the strike with the tailenders, after Ashwin (30) was out relatively cheaply this time.
Other wickets fell around him, Bhuvneshwar Kumar (4), Ojha (0) and Mohammad Shami (11). Meanwhile, Rohit picked up his pace and smacked a second Test hundred in only his second innings. He was unbeaten on 111, off 127 balls, with 11 fours and three sixes.
India finished at 495, a lead of 313 runs, with more than three days to play. Shane Shillingford was the most successful bowler, finishing with five for 179, his fifth consecutive five-wicket haul in Tests. Shannon Gabriel (1-85), Tino Best (1-93) and Deonarine (2-45) were the other wicket-takers.
The West Indies began their innings in the last hour of the day. Kieran Powell (9) played a poor shot off Ashwin (2-12), which brought out Best (9) as the nightwatchman. Ojha (1-12) trapped him LBW and then Ashwin got rid of Darren Bravo (11), as the visitors were reduced to 43 for three.
They are staring at a big defeat on the day when Sachin Tendulkar will play his last.
© Cricket World 2013