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Friday, November 25, 2011

Tendulkar narrowly misses 100th international ton

Sachin Tendulkar has fallen six runs short of becoming the first batsman to score 100 international centuries during the third and final Test against the West Indies.

Tendulkar, who resumed on 67 at his home ground of Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on Friday, was dismissed for 94 when he slashed at a delivery from pace bowler Ravi Rampaul and was caught by Darren Sammy at second slip early on the fourth day.

Tendulkar strode confidently to the crease to start the morning and drove a boundary in the very first over off Rampaul with a stylish flick to the leg side.
Six runs short ... Sachin Tendulkar reacts after his dismissal during the third Test against the West Indies.

The new ball, taken early in the morning, seemed to have no effect on Tendulkar as he straight drove Rampaul for a four and hit fellow paceman Fidel Edwards through the covers for his third four of the morning.

He then had the crowd up on its feet as he moved into the 90s with a slashed six to Edwards over third-man that took him from 87 to 93.

Tendulkar faced 20 deliveries in the morning session and smashed a total of eight fours and two sixes in a 153-ball knock. The 100th century has been tensely anticipated since he notched two 100s during this year's World Cup to reach a total of 99. He has scored 51 Test centuries and 48 in one-day internationals.

Tendulkar has another chance to score the landmark century in the five-match one day international series against the West Indies starting next week. If not, he will get the chance during the four test series against Australia starting in Melbourne on Boxing Day.

In contrast to the previous three days, when crowds were thin on the ground, supporters flocked to the Wankhede Stadium to see if the master batsman could achieve the unprecedented landmark.

As Tendulkar pushed on with confidence into the nineties with a string of stylish boundaries, late arrivals clutching tickets ran frantically towards the ground, desperate not to miss the occasion.

Others without tickets swarmed around the television cameras set up on the sweeping Marine Drive promenade, waving the saffron, white and green flag of India and listening to radio commentary on their mobile phones.

But as news emerged that Tendulkar had edged Ravi Rampaul to second slip, fans clutched their heads in disbelief. Instead of cheers there was only the sound of heavy rush-hour traffic.

"I didn't have a ticket but I came here on the off-chance of getting one," said Ramesh Chauhan, a 43-year-old civil servant from Mumbai. "I couldn't get one so I'm doubly disappointed."

Late-comers who had not heard news of Tendulkar's exit were still sprinting to make it to the venue on time. But they were stopped in their tracks by passers-by who shook their heads as they told them the news.

"I'm depressed actually," said Chinmay Kurve, a 24-year-old software industry worker, as he walked away from the stadium.

Mumbai had been in a state of expectation about the record, with Tendulkar one of the city's favourite sons as well as a sporting icon for millions of cricket fans across India.

The 38-year-old was born in the city and cut his cricketing teeth on Mumbai's packed public playing fields, before making his international debut at the precocious age of 16.

The downbeat mood outside the Wankhede Stadium was in sharp contrast to the jubilant scenes back in March, when India lifted the one-day international World Cup after beating South Asian rivals Sri Lanka.

Fans of Tendulkar were still confident he will achieve the feat either in the forthcoming one-day internationals against the West Indies or the next Test series in Australia.

"There's no doubt he can do it," said Chauhan.

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