Dec 15, 2008

Sport - Cricket;Tendulkar dedicates win to Mumbai martyrs


An inspired Indian team pulled off a sensational six-wicket victory over England in the first cricket Test, relying on the experienced Sachin Tendulkar's composed 41st century to overhaul the fourth highest target in Test history on Monday.

Chasing a target of 387 for victory, Tendulkar held the innings together with a crafty unbeaten 103 while Yuvraj Singh marked his return to Test cricket with a rollicking unbeaten 85 as the hosts rattled up the required runs to take a 1-0 lead in the two-match series.

It was a remarkable victory for India who fought their way back into the game after conceding a 75-run first innings lead on a M A Chidambaram track which did not show signs of any rapid deterioration even on the last day.

After four days of ding-dong battle, the hosts titlted the balance decisively in their favour with a professional batting display in the second innings to make amends for a shocking collapse in the first essay.

Tendulkar and Yuvraj put on an undefeated 163 runs for the fifth wicket to seal the fate of England who had their nose ahead for most part of the game but lost the plot on the last day. They will now rue the decision to declare their second innings at 311 for nine.

It was Virender's explosive knock of 83 off just 68 balls on Sunday, which set up the Indian victory while Gautam Gambhir (66) was the other notable performer in the memorable run chase.

Tendulkar hit a boundary to not only notch up his 41st Test century but also bring about the winning runs, triggering off wild scenes of celebrations in the galleries.

The seizable crowd at the Chepauk had plenty to cheer about as the Indians went about chasing down the fourth highest target in the fourth innings in Test history.

While West Indies have the record of the highest run chase of 418/7 against Australia at St. Johns in 2003, India is second in the list for successfully chasing 406 against the West Indies at Port of Spain in 1976.

The only other team to have scored more than 400 runs in the fourth innings is Australia who scored 404/3 against England at Leeds in 1948.

It was the highest ever fourth innings target achieved at any venue in the country, 276 by the West Indies at Delhi in 1987-88 was the previous best.

India's best effort in winning a test match at home when batting last was 256-8 against Australia at Mumbai in the 1964-65 series, but it did make 347 to tie the 1986 Test against Australia in Chennai.

The two teams will now travel to Mohali for the second Test beginning on December 19.

Resuming at the overnight score of 131 for one, India suffered an early setback when Rahul Dravid (4) got out cheaply yet again. Dravid was out edging Andrew Flintoff to wicketkeeper Matt Prior in third over of the day.

But Gambhir and Tendulkar took upon the challenge and at one stage maintained a run rate of around five runs per over, attacking the England bowlers. The duo added 42 runs for the third wicket.

Gambhir and Tendulkar never looked under any pressure and took singles and twos without much problem, besides sending the odd bad balls to the ropes.

Tendulkar, in particular, was enjoying his batting as he punished the bowlers whenever they gave width to him for playing shots.

Tendulkar survived a half chance soon after India crossed the 150 mark. With Graeme Swann hitting the right areas, the little master stretched to defend but the ball took a sharp turn and hit the outer edge of the bat to fall inches in front of Ian Bell at silly point. Tendulkar was on ten then.

Gambhir was shaping well as he added 24 runs with Dravid and 42 with Tendulkar but one lapse of concentration saw him back in the pavillion.

After bowling two short-pitched deliveries in previous over, James Anderson kept up the pressure on Gambhir attacking on the off side corridor, and the Indian opener paid the price for a lapse in concentration.

Gambhir moved across and his half hearted steer end up to Paul Collingwood who moved to his left at slips and took a good catch at gully.

Though there was a slight drop in run flow at the fall of Gambhir, Laxman adapted to the conditions quickly and was in no mood to take any risk against Monty Panesar, who maintained a tight length.

England captain Kevin Pietersen withdrew his bowlers whenever they gave away runs denying the Indians to settle down. But Laxman, in particular, was focused and used his feet for well-timed drives.

With both Tendulkar and Yuvraj holding the aces against the English bowlers, India were in sight of a historic win.

Tendulkar who struck his 52nd fifty and crossed 1000-run mark this year, played the anchor role using his experience to gather runs mostly through singles and twos.

England heaved a sigh of relief when Graeme Swann scalped Laxman (42 balls, 4X4) who was out to a bat pad catch by Ian Bell.

Yuvraj, after reading the pitch for a while, continued with India's plan of counter-attack and Tendulkar played a good foil keeping one end intact.

For a while, Monty Panesar and Swann kept up the pressure and momentarily arrested the flow of runs. But once Tendulkar and Yuvraj brought about their 50 stand with Yuvraj sweeping Panesar to the fence, the duo started to cut loose.

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