Sachin Tendulkar falls short of 100th ton as India stare at defeat

Sachin Tendulkar in action during his innings of 80 on day four of the second Test at the SCG Getty Images

Sydney: Jan 6, 2012

It was once again a case of so near yet so far for Sachin Tendulkar while India hurtled towards an innings defeat at the hands of Australia by tea on the fourth day of the second Test on Friday.

The visitors, trailing by 468 runs on the first innings, were 351 for 8 by tea, still 117 runs adrift with Ravichandran Ashwin (27 batting) and Ishant Sharma (1 batting) at the crease.

The floodgates were opened once Sachin Tendulkar (80), in search of that elusive 100th century, nicked a delivery from part-time left-arm spin of Michael Clarke to Michael Hussey at first slip after it bounced off gloves of wicketkeeper Brad Haddin.

Tendulkar, unbeaten on 70 at lunch, had added 10 more runs through ones and twos when he came forward almost in a premeditated manner to Clarke and could do no better than edge a chance.

Australians had resorted to bowling Clarke and Michael Hussey from the two ends in a bid to claim the second new ball as quickly as possible. Tendulkar’s scalp just an over before the second new ball was claimed was an unexpected gift to the hosts.

Tendulkar made his 80 runs from 140 balls in 215 minutes slamming nine fours in process. The session began quietly enough but VVS Laxman flicked Peter Siddle off his pads and then pulled him for four to raise the hundred partnership for the fourth wicket.

While doing so, Laxman also raised a half century for himself, having batted for 90 balls and hit six fours. But once Tendulkar fell to the bait, the rest of the batting unraveled quickly. The second new ball, as was expected, was the key as three wickets fell off 22 deliveries.

Ben Hilfenhaus, that tormentor of the Indian batting in the series, now armed with the second new ball, made one leave Laxman’s defensive blade and just brushed his off-stump to take out the bails.

Laxman (66) batted for 132 minutes and 119 balls and struck seven fours. Skipper Dhoni (2) offered a return catch to Hilfenhaus which needed television replays to affirm that the catch wasn’t a bump ball.

Virat Kohli (9), continuing his miserable form in Test cricket, tried to flick a delivery from Pattinson but it kept low and found him plumb in front of the stumps.

Ashwin and Zaheer Khan then hit out lustily, more so the left-arm paceman who once clobbered a six and four off successive deliveries from Pattinson.

The 50-run stand for the eighth wicket duly arrived when Zaheer Khan stroked the off-spin of Nathan Lyon through the covers for three. It took them 44 balls and a mere 32 minutes for the landmark.

Zaheer’s pyrotechnics finally ended when he lobbed a catch to Shaun Marsh at point, having made his 35 runs from 26 balls and hit five fours and a six.

Brief Scores: India 191 & 351 for 8 (Gautam Gambhir 83, Sachin Tendulkar 80, VVS Laxman 66; Ben Hilfenhaus 4 for 81, Peter Siddle 2 for 88) trail Australia 659 for 4 (Michael Clarke 329*, Michael Hussey 150*, Ricky Ponting 134; Zaheer Khan 3 for 122, Ishant Sharma 1 for 144) by 177 runs

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