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
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
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.