MOHALI: India suffered a dramatic batting collapse after Sachin Tendulkar missed his 49th century by a whisker to eventually fold out for 405 in their first innings at stumps on day three of the first cricket Test against Australia here today. Tendulkar (98) fell short of his 49th Test century by just two runs as, riding on Mitchell Johnson’s five for 64, Australian bowlers made a splendid comeback and dismissed the last six Indian batsmen in the final hour of the day for just 51 runs.
Having scored 428 in their first essay, Australia will go into the penultimate day of the match with a slight edge over the home team after registering a 23-run first innings lead. Part-time off-spinner Marcus North turned out to be party pooper for Indian fans, trapping Tendulkar leg before two runs short of century.
Tendulkar’s 189-ball innings consisted of 13 boundaries, bulk of which was hit through region between point and extra cover. Along with Suresh Raina (89), he added 124 runs for the fifth wicket to lay the foundation for a big score.
India were cruising along at that stage with scoreboard reading 354 for four and with Raina for company, it looked as if Tendulkar would provide a substantial lead for his team. But it was not to be as after Tendulkar’s dismissal, the lower middle-order fell like a pack of cards with Johnson inflicting the maximum damage.
Johnson dismissed skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni (14) and Habhajan Singh (0) in successive deliveries and later accounted for Raina, who dominated the opposition attack from the onset with an aggressive 86 which was studded with 14 boundaries. Raina failed to keep a Johnson delivery out of his way as it kept low and got him plumb in front.
VVS Laxman, who is suffering from a back injury, came out with a runner to bat at the number 10 position but could hardly make an impact before being the last man to depart. Earlier, Rahul Dravid wasted a golden opportunity of surpassing Sir Don Bradman’s tally of 29 Test hundred as India reached 280 for four at tea.
Dravid scored 77 and looked barely troubled by the Aussie bowlers before he edged a Doug Bollinger delivery to wicketkeeper Tim Paine. The ball pitched on the middle stump and moved a shade as it kissed the edge of Dravid’s bat.
He batted for 205 minutes and faced 134 deliveries, hitting 12 fours in the process. Tendulkar and Dravid put on 79 runs for the fourth wicket where the former was the dominant partner.
Unlike Sehwag, who bludgeoned the opposition bowlers yesterday, Tendulkar seemed to caress the ball to boundary. Out of his nine boundaries, the first five were pierced through the region between point and extra cover.(PTI)