India reply strong to WI's 590

Mumbai, India, CMC – India batting maestro Sachin Tendulkar hit an unbeaten half-century to remain on course for a 100th International century as batsmen again enjoyed the pitch at the Wankhede Stadium on the third day of the third and final Test against West Indies on Thursday.

Responding to West Indies’ mammoth first innings total of 590, India closed on 281-3 with the 38-year-old Tendulkar on 67 not out and strongly favoured to record his 52nd century in his 184th Test. He has 48 hundreds in 453 One-Day Internationals.

Apart from Tendulkar, there were also half-centuries for opener Gautam Gambir (55) and Rahul Dravid (82).

Earlier, West Indies extended their overnight score from 575-9 for another 15 minutes before Devendra Bishoo was bowled by off-spinner Ravi Ashwin for 12, leaving Fidel Edwards not out on 11.

Ashwin finished with 5-156 for 52.1 overs – his second five-wicket haul of the series - while debutant fast bowler Varun Aaron picked up three for 106 off 28 overs.

Left-hander Gambhir and Virender Sehwag gave India a brisk start against an aggressive new ball pair of Fidel Edwards and Ravi Rampaul.

Gambir, who was a bit loose in the initial stages, survived a confident appeal for leg before wicket against Edwards as Sehwag played in his usual free-scoring style.

The pair added 67 before captain and seamer Darren Sammy bowled Sehwag for 37. Sammy celebrated with three fingers to signal the number of times he had dismissed the batsman in the three-match rubber, which India lead 2-0.

Sehwag at least had the honour of hitting a six apart from three fours and moved to joint-second position with former West Indies captain and ace batsman Brian Lara and current South African all-rounder Jacques Kallis on the list of Test batsmen with the most sixes. He now has 88 sixes and is second only to former Australia wicket-keeper/batsman Adam Gilchrist, who has 100 sixes.

His dismissal let in Dravid, who became only the second batsman after Tendulkar to pass 13,000 runs in Tests when he sweetly drove a half-volley for four. Dravid is the fastest to the mark in terms of matches (160) but Tendulkar got there in 11 fewer innings.

The West Indies attack was hampered in the post-lunch session by the absence of leg-spinner Devendra Bishoo who was nursing an injured thigh muscle. Rampaul accounted for Gambhir, who threw his bat at a bouncer and was caught at the wicket by Carlton Baugh.

That led to a big moment for the crowd, who had been anticipating the arrival of Tendulkar on home turf.

Tendulkar quickly moved to 20 with some fine shots as he used his feet to the spinners. And when he essayed an upper-cut off Fidel Edwards for six into the stands beyond third man after tea, the crowd went wild.

Dravid reached 1,000 runs in a calendar year for the third time in his career and was well set for a century when he chopped off-spinner Marlon Samuels into his stumps. It was Dravid’s 62nd half-century and the stand of 86 was his 48th fifty-plus with Tendulkar. This is the highest for any batting pair in Tests.

West Indies should have also removed Tendulkar but Baugh was unable to hold on to a regulation catch from a healthy outside edge off Bishoo with the batsman on 58.

At the close, VVS Laxman was in company with Tendulkar on 32 – their stand so far worth 57.

Thu, 11/24/2011 - 05:22