Tendulkar’s 50th Test ton halts Proteas victory march

Sunday, December 19, 2010

CENTURION - India’s Sachin Tendulkar reached the milestone of 50 Test centuries Sunday, delaying the South African victory march on the fourth day of the the first cricket Test. The hosts, however, are two wickets away from wrapping up the match.

At stumps, India reached 454 for eight in their second innings with Tendulkar (107) and Mahendra Singh Dhoni (90) scoring 172 runs for the seventh wicket.

But India quickly lost two wickets when Dhoni, who hit 14 fours in his counter-attacking 106-ball knock, was dismissed be Dale Steyn (3-103), and Paul Harris (2-88) followed with Harbhajan Singh’s wicket.

India, who were all out for 136 in the first innings, still trail by 30 runs.

Tendulkar was batting with S. Sreesanth (3) when bad light stopped play with clouds hovering over the ground.

India would pray for the weather gods to intervene Monday.

Tendulkar and Dhoni kept India afloat after India were looking down the barrel at 277 for six.

India lost four wickets in the morning session and defeat was looming large at lunch when they were 277 for six, but Dhoni led the fight back with a punishing knock while Tendulkar remained solid at the other end.

At tea, India reached 394 for six with Tendulkar and Dhoni raising an an unbeaten 117-run partnership.

One of the biggest moment in Test history came after tea in the 114.3 over of the Indian innings when Tendulkar drove Steyn through the covers to complete his half-century of centuries. This hundred, the sixth against South Africa, came in 196 balls with 12 fours and one six. It was also his seventh century of the year. The 50 centuries have been compiled in a career spanning two decades.

Tendulkar entered the nervous nineties, dancing down the track to send left-arm-spinner Harris soaring over the stands for a straight six. He reached 95 with that shot and then spent some anxious moments, consuming 16 more balls to reach the three-figure mark. Dhoni even survived a run-out chance as he came half way down the track from the non-striker’s end to steal a single and turned back to save his wicket.

When the moment finally came, Tendulkar raised his arms in the sky and looked upwards to thank the almighty - and his late father - and the Indian stands broke into celebration.

“I dedicate this century to my father. It was his birthday yesterday and I wanted to do something in his honour. I also thank all the well-wishers fans who have supported me throughout. Just keep supporting me like this and I will continue to perform,” Tendulkar said.

Tendulkar, who reached the milestone in 175 Tests, is way ahead of others in the list of most number of centuries. Australian captain Ricky Ponting is a distant second with 39 centuries followed by South African Jacques Kallis who has 38 Test hundreds. The other Indians in the top 10 list is Sunil Gavaskar (34), at fourth position, and Rahul Dravid (31) at seventh place.

Earlier, resuming at 190 for two, India lost night watchman Ishant Sharma to Dale Steyn at the score of 214.

Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid, who was looking good to play a long innings, added 28 runs before the latter edged a Morne Morkel delivery and wicketkeeper Mark Boucher pouched the catch safely.

Left-arm seamer Lonwabo Tsotsobe removed VVS Laxman, who offered a thick edge to AB de Villiers at gully. Suresh Raina followed soon, snared by Jacques Kallis.

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