Pujara’s ton, Sachin’s 74 put India in control
Sachin Tendulkar produced a dazzling array of strokes in his farewell knock of 74 creating an ideal launchpad for Cheteshwar Pujara to consolidate with a patient century as India reached 413/7 at tea on the second day of the second and final cricket Test against the West Indies in Mumbai on Friday.
The hosts now lead by 231 runs and would like to go for the kill by finishing of the match and completing a series whitewash inside three days.
The morning session belonged to none other than Tendulkar, who is playing his 200th and final Test match.
Starting the day on 38, the maestro looked fluent during his 68-minute stay at the wicket on the day. He faced 118 balls in all, hitting 12 boundaries, all of which were pure class.
He added 148 runs for the second wicket with Pujara, who hit a responsible 113 en route his fifth Test century. Pujara hit 12 fours in his 167 ball knock.
Virat Kohli also contributed his bit with a quickfire 57 while in-form Rohit Sharma looked good during his undefeated knock of 44.
On Friday, all roads led to the Wankhede Stadium in anticipation of a century but on 74, it was offie Narsingh Deonarine, who got one to bounce that extra bit as Tendulkar tried a cut shot which ended in rival captain Darren Sammy’s hands in the first slip.
Deonarine’s name will certainly feature in the record books for years to come as it is unlikely that West Indies will be able to get India bat second time on a pitch that has shown considerable wear and tear.
However, the time he was at the crease was pure unbridled joy for all those who witnessed a ‘Vintage Tendulkar’ on display.
With Pujara playing an ideal second fiddle by rotating the strike, Tendulkar played some delightful strokes that were taken out of the top drawer.
Tendulkar’s late cut off Shane Shillingford, a backfoot punch through the covers off Tino Best and the drive past Best that brought up his half-century were pure class. It was Tendulkar’s 68th Test half-century that came in 91 deliveries.
Best, who first tried to unsettle Tendulkar with bouncers and then with verbal volleys surrendered in the end as he had hands on his knees at the end of one of his overs.
It was Tendulkar who gave him a friendly pat on the shoulders probably to remind “who’s the boss today“.
The hallmark of Tendulkar’s innings was his assured footwork, leaving a lot of fuller deliveries outside the off-stump and getting the body behind the ball while executing those drives.
Probably, being pressure-free helped him to go for his shots as each and every stroke — attack or defence — was lustily cheered by a vociferous crowd.
Credit should also be given to Pujara who kept his composure as the atmosphere was very overwhelming and emotionally over-riding too.
He nudged around and when he got loose deliveries, he didn’t forget to punish them. He played some free flowing drives and never really looked like any sort of trouble.
He completed his century with a single off Deonarine as wife Puja applauded from the VIP stands.
The Pujara-Kohli duo added 94 runs in less than 22 overs to maintain a run-rate of above 4.5. Kohli played effortlessly as he reached his 50 in only 53 balls.
However, the talented Delhi batsman got a bit bogged down as he could score only seven off his next 24 deliveries before edging one Shillingford t Sammy in the slips.
Skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni (4) was dismissed cheaply as Best finally struck with the second new ball getting the Indian captain to edge one to the slip fielder.
Again it was Shillingford, who had the best figures of four for 142 in 34 overs.