Tendulkar! A Fantastic Ton in Nagpur Test Nov'08
Tendulkar after Making Wonderful Century
Sachin on his Excellent Performance
Almost everything Sachin Tendulkar did today - from opening his account with a brush off the pads for four, to punching gloves with VVS Laxman at lunch to strutting back after tea - pointed to a batsman full of intent. His efforts paid off, despite a run-out chance on 74 and drops on 85 and 98 off the persevering debutant Jason Krejza, as he scored his 40th Test hundred to lead India's recovery, after a pre-lunch flurry of wickets, to 311 for 5 on the opening day in Nagpur.
India lost debutant M Vijay, Rahul Dravid and Virender Sehwag in 29 deliveries towards the end of the first session before the two in-form veterans shored up the innings. For nearly three and a half hours, Tendulkar and Laxman batted gracefully for 146 runs, their stand the highlight of India's day.
Tendulkar looked at ease since replacing Dravid - out for a duck - driving straight and impregnable in defence. He was the early aggressor in the partnership with Laxman, unfurling a slog-sweep over midwicket and a lofted on-drive in one Krejza over to raise India's 150. While the faster men were driven through cover, flicked to midwicket quite fluently or on-driven with laser-like precision, the spinners were tackled with excellent footwork.
Laxman, not at his most silky and sublime, collected his runs slowly and mechanically. As in Delhi, where he stroked 259 unbeaten runs, he stood firm, as has become his trademark. Even when the ball stopped on him, Laxman relied on those supple wrists and worked Krejza over the infield. The only phase when he was troubled was during Brett Lee's second spell, when the bowler obtained a bit of reverse-swing.
The scoring rate dipped with each session, from five - after Sehwag had blazed away - to four and under, but the objective rarely wavered. The pair scurried hard singles and dispatched anything loose - of which there was plenty - and almost always picking their mark whenever they went aerial.
India lead the series 1-0 and one is sure that a good batting performance in the first innings could virtually assure them Border-Gavaskar trophy.
The veteran's delight on achieving the three-figure mark in such a crucial game was palpable.
"I think if you look at the series, this match is very important. Obviously, if you score a century in an important game it also benefits the team.
"I am delighted at getting the century. But, as I said, four more days to go, so the focus will be on that and not on what has been achieved. The focus is on the next innings," the veteran declared.
Tendulkar, however, regretted losing wickets at regular intervals, including his own, towards the closing stages of the day.
"Right now, I think, there is a lot of cricket left in this match. I won't say we are in a brilliant position, but definitely we are in a decent position. I think five wickets were too much today; three would have been okay," the master batsman reasoned.
Debutant Jason Krejza was the most successful bowler for Australia, claiming three for 138, to pull back the hosts after a blazing start. He was unlucky not have bagged the crucial wicket of Tendulkar, who was twice dropped in the 90s at the long-on region off his bowling.
"I mean, I can say, that he [Krejza] was a bit unlucky. He had a first wonderful day. As I said there is a lot more cricket to play, so we have to wait and see, but he has had a good day," he said.
"Today I can also thank God.(smiles). I think after Adelaide, I have played around six or seven matches. I know I am batting well, but I was not getting to the three-figure landmark. But I don't think that is everything. As you have seen in this Test series, I have gone in at crucial stages at almost four or five times and I have been able to play. That is very satisfying when you deliver when the team needs the most and that is what I have been able to do in this series," the Mumbai batsman added.
Tendulkar pointed out how he and VVS Laxman walked out to bat with the intention of stitching a big partnership after India lost three quick wickets in the morning session.
"It was important that I got going because we had lost a couple of wickets and even Sehwag got out after that. Between me and Laxman it was important that we put up a good partnership and we were successful in doing that," the 35-year-old said.
"I think it was just about keeping the head cool initially, because when I walked in it was a critical stage. At that stage we had to make sure that we had a good partnership and took the game away from Australia because the momentum was with them initially," he added.
Tendulkar believes the wicket will suit India as the match goes on if they can manage a big score in the first innings.
"The wicket is playing good. It is a perfect track, I feel. There is a bit help for the spinners. The spinners are getting bounce, so I think in a day or two it will be difficult to play the spinners."
Debutant opener Murali Vijay, who scored 33, also came in for rich praise from the veteran batsman. "I thought he batted very well. He looked very good, calm and composed," he said.
Tendulkar also gave his thumbs up to the new stadium, saying the facilities are the best one could ever witness at a cricket stadium.
"I think the facilities at the stadium are excellent. We had heard a lot about the stadium, but it has turned out to be better than our expectations. The facilities, like dressing rooms, the viewing areas, the seating for the spectators are quite good, while there is also a gym along with the dressing room. So the facilities for the players are very good and also for the spectators.
"You can watch the match from the stands at any angle because there is very less obstruction. The viewing area from every point is good, so what more can you ask for," he said.