Tendulkar puts Aussie bowlers to the sword

Sachin Tendulkar provided a masterful demonstration of batting to give India an unexpected but fully deserved lead in the second Test at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Friday.

Tendulkar defied Australia’s bowling attack for almost seven hours, striking 14 boundaries and a six to chalk up his 38th Test hundred and guide the tourists to a massive total of 532, 69 more than Australia’s effort of 463.

Tendulkar was still unbeaten on 154 when he eventually ran out of partners, departing the ground to a standing ovation as he put India in a strong position to ruin Australia’s bid for a world record-equalling 16th straight Test win.

Australian openers Phil Jaques (eight not out) and Matthew Hayden (five not out) wiped 13 off the deficit by the close of play but the hosts face an uphill battle to win the match with rain forecast over the weekend.

Australia were extremely confident of steamrolling the Indians after crushing them by 337 runs in Melbourne last week but struggled against an inspired batting line-up on a flat pitch that has yielded more than 1 000 runs in just three days.

Gilchrist milestone

Express paceman Brett Lee (5-119) was again the pick of the bowlers, bagging his eighth five-wicket haul in Tests, while Adam Gilchrist took three catches to join South African Mark Boucher as the only wicketkeepers to claim more than 400 dismissals.

However, even they were unable to find a way to remove Tendulkar, who may be making his last Test appearance at the SCG.

The 34-year-old scored an unbeaten double-century on his last visit to Sydney four years ago and now averages 326 in four Test appearances at the world’s third-oldest Test ground.

He received great support from former Indian skipper Saurav Ganguly, who made 67, and tail-ender Harbhajan Singh, who frustrated the Australian bowlers with a daring 63.

Ganguly struck seven boundaries and a six to get the Indians off to a flying start after they resumed on 216-3 but his enthusiasm got the better of him when he threw his wicket away, miscuing a drive off spinner Brad Hogg straight to Mike Hussey at mid-off.

Australia briefly looked to have regained the upper hand when Lee dismissed Yuvraj Singh (12), then Mahendra Dhoni (2) and skipper Anil Kumble (2) to reduce India to 345-7 after lunch.

But Tendulkar and Harbhajan safely steered India past Australia’s total with a 129-run partnership, a record eighth-wicket stand for India against Australia.

Harbhajan was caught by Hussey off Mitchell Johnson and Stuart Clark got rid of RP Singh cheaply before Lee finally finished off the innings with a return catch off Ishant Sharma, who made 23 in a last-wicket stand of 31 to ensure Tendulkar passed 150. — Reuters

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