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Tendulkar's 85 helps India to score a defendable 260 runs

Wednesday March 30, 2011 07:44:21 PM, IANS

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Mohali: Sachin Tendulkar fell 15 runs short of his 100th international century and India limped to 260 for nine in 50 overs against Pakistan in the World Cup semifinal at the jampacked Punjab Cricket Association (PCA) Stadium here Wednesday.

Tendulkar (85), who survived three dropped catches and a referral reversal, gave India a scintillating start with Virender Sehwag (38), racing to nine runs an over in the first five overs before a middle-order collapse saw them struggling at 205/6. Suresh Raina then scored a fighting 36 not out and batted intelligently with the tailenders to give India a fair total to keep them in the match after skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni opted to bat first.

Seeing he was running out of partners, Suresh Raina struck a few hefty blows to make sure that India, for once, didn't falter in the bating powerplay (45-49 overs), scoring 43 runs for the loss of just one wicket.

Playing in front of the prime ministers of both the countries, Sehwag was in full form, stroking the ball fluently. He drove pacer Umar Gul's third delivery through the covers for a four to bring up his 1,000 runs against Pakistan. Gul, who has been one of Pakistan's most successful bowlers in the tournament, did not know what hit him in his third over as Sehwag trounced him for five fours to garner 21 runs.

Tendulkar and Sehwag then came down heavily on Abdul Razzaq, prompting Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi to replace the veteran all-rounder with young Wahab Riaz and the left-arm pacer suddenly started posing problems with his angle and once started getting reverse swing he looked a difficult customer. He ended up with his maiden fifer -- five for 46.

Riaz struck immediately to break the 48-run opening stand by getting rid of Sehwag, who unsuccessfully challenged the leg-before decision. Sehwag hit nine fours in his 25-ball stay.

Tendulkar and Gautam Gambhir (27) then added 68-runs for the second wicket before off-spinner Mohammad Hafeez deceived Gambhir in flight to get him stumped. The dismissal triggered a collapse and India lost four wickets, including that of Dhoni's for just 52 runs.

Riaz was on a hat-trick after he removed Virat Kohli (9) and in-form Yuvraj Singh but Dhoni (25) denied him.

Tendulkar, who had problems picking Ajmal's topspinner and the 'doosra,' hung in there with sheer determination, the three dropped catches and an lbw referral review notwithstanding. Having got thus far he looked to get his hundredth international century.

Umpire Ian Gould, ruled Tendulkar lbw to offspinner Ajmal. After discussing with Gambhir, Tendulkar successfully challenged the decision and the review showed the ball was going down the legside, missing the stump.

Tendulkar, who struck 11 fours, survived another vociferous appeal off the next ball as he lunged forward and this time wicketkeeper Kamran Akmal whipped off the bails. Tendulkar's luck continued when he was dropped twice off skipper Shahid Afridi by the two senior most cricketers in the side, first by Misbah-Ul-Haq at short midwicket when he was on 27 and then by Younis Khan at short extracover when he was on 45.

Tendulkar got to his fifty in style by driving Afridi through extra cover for a four. In the 35th over, Tendulkar, on 81, survived another chance when Umar Akmal dropped a dolly at mid-wicket off Hafeez. Tendulkar, however, failed to capitalise on the third chance and departed after 12 balls with Afridi making sure he didn't drop this one. Tendulkar faced 115 balls.





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