Tendulkar hits century in historic Chennai Test win

By Anand Philar,

Chennai : India recorded a magnificent six-wicket victory over England by successfully chasing a seemingly improbable target of 387 runs in the first cricket Test at the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium, here Monday.

Support TwoCircles

The victory was built around Sachin Tendulkar’s 41st Test century (103 not out) and his unbroken 163-run partnership for the fifth wicket with Yuvraj Singh (85 not out) on the final day of the match. But the tempo was set by Virender Sehwag who blasted 83 off 68 balls Sunday and was also adjudged the Man of the Match.

England made 316 runs in the first innings and declared their second essay at 311 for nine. India were all out for 241 in their first innings.

The successful run chase was the second best by India following the 406 for four at Trinidad against the West Indies in 1976 and also the highest ever on Indian soil by any team.

The match ended in a frenzy of excitement as Yuvraj selflessly farmed the bowling to allow Tendulkar score the winning runs with a boundary off off-spinner Graeme Swann, a shot that also took the batsman to his hundred amidst rhythmic chants of “Sachin, Sachin.”

The victory was also skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s fourth in as many matches and follows India’s 5-0 drubbing of England in the last month’s ODI series that was cut short following terror attacks in Mumbai.

The day’s opening two sessions dished out some riveting cricket with India riding on the momentum that Sehwag had provided last evening with his cameo innings, and England bending their backs to apply breaks on the run-rate.

India, though did not have the best of starts first up when they lost Rahul Dravid (4) early, snicking Flintoff to Matt Prior behind the stumps.

After a brief recovery, India suffered another setback when a well-set Gautam Gambhir (66) paid the price for repeatedly fishing outside the off-stump and edged Andersen to Paul Collingwood in gully, leaving India precariously placed at 183 for three.

Thereafter, V.V.S. Laxman (26) and Tendulkar took India past the 200-mark with the former playing some top shots before getting foxed by the sharp turn and bounce off Graeme Swann to offer a simple catch to Ian Bell at short-leg.

At this stage, England appeared to hold a slight edge as their seamers, Flintoff and Anderson, were bowling with considerable pace and hostility, and spinners Monty Panesar and Swann keeping the batsmen quiet despite the occasional boundary hit.

The pitch too contributed to the drama and tension with the odd delivery when pitched in the rough affording turn and unpredictable bounce. The conditions were tailor-made for a quality spinner to exploit and run amuck, but neither Panesar nor Swann could really get on top of the batsmen.

Under the circumstances, Tendulkar brought into play his vast experience to provide a calming influence, especially with the precocious Yuvraj tending to chance his arm and living rather dangerously, once even getting away with an appeal for leg-before when caught in front.

Tendulkar played percentage cricket, now exploding into action and then offering a dead bat while repeatedly counselling Yuvraj who was constantly heckled by Flintoff. The maestro completed his 52nd half-century and also 1,000 runs for the calendar year for the fifth time and the first Indian to do so, ahead of Sunil Gavaskar’s four.

The pair played out the second session as India went to tea at 304 for four, still needing 83 runs in a minimum of 40 overs in the final two hours of the match.

On resumption, Tendulkar and Yuvraj scored at a faster clip sensing a possible victory. Yuvraj completed his fourth Test half-century off 76 deliveries while Tendulkar made progress towards his century.

England, meanwhile, took the second new ball, probably their last throw of dice, with India on 320 for four in an effort to break the partnership, but by then, both Tendulkar and Yuvraj were well set. The first hour after tea produced 44 runs off 11 overs as the partnership crossed the 100-mark in 27.1 overs.

With Indian victory a certainty, the focus was on Tendulkar reaching his century. Two consecutive boundaries off Panesar took him to 96 while bringing up the 150 of the partnership. Yuvraj played his part by stoutly defending to allow Tendulkar get to his century with victory just a stroke away.

The near-capacity crowd then went into a frenzy as Tendulkar tucked Swann to fine-leg boundary to not only complete his century but also take India past the finish line.