Tendulkar’s ton puts India in command


Hamilton : Sachin Tendulkar’s 42nd Test century helped India get to a commanding position in the first Test as New Zealand were left struggling at 75 for three in the second innings at the end of third day’s play here Friday, still needing 166 runs to make the visitors bat again.

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Tendulkar’s classy 160 and Zaheer Khan’s quick unbeaten 51 helped India pile up 520 runs in the first innings and take a lead of 241. And near the close of play, Munaf Patel struck to remove Kyle Mills (2) to leave New Zealand in a precarious position in the second innings as the hosts reduced the lead to 166.

Daniel Flynn (24) was the unbeaten batsman. Martin Guptill was unfortunate to get out on 48 as New Zealand now face the tough task of saving the match with two days left at the Seddon Park. The hosts made 279 runs in the first innings.

Resuming at the overnight score of 278 for four, one run behind the hosts’ total, India straightaway went into top gear with Tendulkar stroking the ball fluently.

The 35-year-old master craftsman Tendulkar and Yuvraj Singh (22) scored 35 runs in the first four overs. Left-handed Yuvraj was all grace as he clipped Martin for two fours and Tendulkar drove the medium-pacer through the covers majestically. He hit 26 boundaries in his 260-ball innings.

Tendulkar was unstoppable as he glanced and cut Iain O’Brien for two more fours to get into his 90s. Martin and Iain O’Brien bowled successive maidens to restore some sanity, but Tendulkar, 70 overnight, raced to his hundred without wasting much time in the 90s.

Tendulkar, who saw Yuvraj lose his off-stump in an error of judgement, moved to 99 pushing into the covers and reached his century, flicking James Franklin to square leg. The only wicket to fall in the first session, which produced 106 runs, was that of Yuvraj Singh. He was bowled shouldering arms to Chris Martin for 22.

Skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni started in a cautious way and went on to score a patient 47 before he was caught behind by Brendon McCullum when an Iain O’Brien bouncer brushed his gloves.

Dhoni, who added 116 runs for the sixth wicket with Tendulkar, got a life early on in his innings when Jesse Ryder looked to have pulled off a brilliant diving catch in the gully, but television replays showed that the ball had touched the ground just before he got his hand under it.

Tendulkar, who got to his 150 just before Dhoni was dismissed, did not last much longer and poked at O’Brien’s short ball to Ross Taylor at first slip.

Then, fast bowler Zaheer blasted a quick-fire 51 not out, from 46 deliveries, smashing eight boundaries that saw India get past 500 runs. Zaheer added 77 runs with the last three wickets to put India on top.

The fast bowler then came back with ball and gave India the first breakthorugh by removing Tim Mcintosh in the third ball of the day as Tendulkar took a low catch at first slip.

The catch was doubtful as Tendulkar took it just inches from the ground and TV replays were inconclusive but umpire Ian Gould had no doubt in his mind. While attempting the catch, Tendulkar injured his finger and left the ground.

Guptill and Flyn played cautiously in their 68-run second wicket stand. But then Guptill played a rash stroke off Harbhajan and was caught by Virender Sehwag. Patel struck with the last ball of the day to remove nightwatchman Kyle Mills to cap a good day for Indians.