Sydney, Jan.4 : Sachin Tendulkar's unbeaten and masterly 154 today helped India take a marginal 69-run lead against Australia in the second Test at theSydney Cricket Ground (SCG).
Helped by a wagging tail, Tendulkar's 38th Test century helped India score an imposing 532 in reply to Australia's 463. In their second innings, the Kangaroos scored 13 for no loss, with openers Phil Jacques on eight and Mathew Hayden on five in five overs.
Apart from Tendulkar, the other Indian batters to score were V.V.S.Laxman (109), Saurav Ganguly (67), Harbhajan Singh (63) and Ishant Sharma (23). For the Australians, fast bowler Brett Lee snared five wickets for 119 runs.
Earlier in the day, it was Tendulkar all the way. The century that eluded him repeatedly in 2007 came at the earliest possible opportunity in 2008 as he helped India negotiate a post-lunch wobble and reduce the deficit to just 39 runs in the company of a feisty Harbhajan Singh.
Australia sniffed a chance of gaining a sizeable lead when they snapped up two quick wickets immediately after the lunch break, but Tendulkar then took over.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni let Australia get a foot in the door, trying to play a forcing shot off the back foot against Brett Lee and only managing a catch to Adam Gilchrist. When Anil Kumble, usually good for some stodgy resistance, fell to the same combination soon after, with India still trailing by 118, they were in serious trouble.
But Tendulkar deftly shifted gears, sensing that it was important that runs came quickly and was helped along by an adventurous Harbhajan. While Harbhajan's hitting, unorthodox and improvised, over the slips cordon and through the on-side, was a major bonus for India, it was Tendulkar who made the big difference.
Up until the lunch break Tendulkar had played a battling innings, getting to a half-century but not really attacking the Australian bowling. After lunch, with quick wickets falling, Tendulkar signalled his intentions with an upper-cut four into the vacant third-man region.
From there on the strokes were a treat to watch, and this Sydney crowd, perhaps watching Tendulkar play his last Test at the venue, applauded warmly even as Australia's bowlers were denied results. When he drove Stuart Clark through cover off the back foot and ran the brace that took him to three figures, Tendulkar celebrated exuberantly, raising his bat up to the sky before acknowledging the crowd's cheers.
The first session of the third day was hard work for India's batsmen. Ganguly continued his recent good run with some gorgeous strokes through the off side. The timing was impeccable and he started the day with a couple of caressed boundaries off Lee. He used his feet well to the spinners and made his own length by going either back or forward.
He heaved Brad Hogg over mid-on, lofted Michael Clarke over the straight boundary and cut when the spinners corrected the length. It was a soft dismissal at the end, as he fell trying to clear mid-off with Hogg getting a crucial wicket once more. The disappointment on missing out on a century was evident as he smashed his bat in the ground before walking off.
Yuvraj Singh never looked comfortable. He struggled against Hogg and failed to pick the turn, lunged forward uncertainly and was hurried on by the occasional flipper. Lee eventually trapped him leg before. (ANI)
© 2007 ANI