Gambhir and Tendulkar centuries save Test for India


Ahmedabad : Gautam Gambhir and Sachin Tendulkar Friday hit match-saving centuries as India drew the first cricket Test, leaving Sri Lanka still without a Test victory in this country.

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Gambhir scored a fine 114, Tendulkar remained unbeaten on 100 and V.V.S. Laxman stayed with him 51 not out as India made 412 for four in the second innings on the final day at Motera’s Sardar Patel Stadium.

Sri Lanka had put themselves in a winning position after Man-of-the-Match Mahela Jayawardene (275) and Prasanna Jayawardene (154 not out) put on a world-record 351 runs for the sixth wicket to see their side pile up a huge 760 for seven in reply to India’s first-innings score of 426.

But Indian batsmen applied themselves to bat for well over four sessions on a dead track to save the match.

If Rahul Dravid (177) and skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni (110) saved India the blushes after being reduced to 32 for four in the first innings, it was the turn of Gambhir and Tendulkar in the second. Tendulkar, who is in his 21st year of international cricket, also became the first player to score more than 30,000 international runs (30,055) with his 43rd century.

It was also one of those rare occasions when legendary spinner Muttiah Muralitharan went wicketless in the second innings and ended with a match haul of three wickets for 221.

Resuming at the overnight score of 190 for two, India batted cautiously, only 66 runs coming off 29 overs in the first session.

Gambhir and night-watchman Amit Mishra (24) didn’t take any chances on the lifeless track and were happy defying the Sri Lankan bowlers. Mishra played well for his career-best score and was dismissed after Tillekaratne Dilshan took a diving catch, flinging himself to his right, off Angelo Matthews.

Gambhir controlled his natural instincts and played a patient innings, lasting well over five hours. He took some time to get to his 90s, but then hit three fours to get his third consecutive century and the seventh overall.

Gambhir and Tendulkar added 66 runs for the fourth wicket and just when things were going India’s way, the left-hander perished, failing to clear mid-off Dammika Prasad. Gambhir’s 230-ball knock had 13 fours.

Tendulkar and Laxman played intelligently in their unbroken 137-run fifth-wicket stand to put the issue beyond any doubt.

Tendulkar played a watchful knock, hitting 11 fours, and took 211 balls and nearly five hours to get his century.