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Missed ton notwithstanding, Sachin played a class innings

A look at the wagon wheel indicates Sachin was at his flamboyant best

"I want to tell my grandchildren that I saw Sachin Tendulkar get his hundredth international hundred" was the sort of incentive that drove scores of people to the Wankhede Stadium yesterday. These were the same people who were least interested in the Test or its outcome, but couldn't resist a shot at being part of history -- watch their sporting hero's crowning achievement.


Sachin Tendulkar reacts after his dismissal on Day Four against West
Indies at Wankhede Stadium. Pic/AFP


The streets of South Mumbai were bustling even two hours before Tendulkar resumed on his overnight score of 67. While some regretted not buying season tickets prior to the Test, others were ready to spend anything to get a glimpse of history being made.

New ball
West Indies took the new ball to start the day, what followed in the next 39 minutes was an exhibition of the highest quality of batting from Tendulkar. Ravi Rampaul, with his tail up and a brand new red cherry, steamed in with a misdirected bouncer to kick of proceedings. The next ball, he had Tendulkar rapped on the pad, the crowd was elated as the umpire yelled "too high."

Tendulkar was up and running with a dab through mid-wicket for a couple of runs.  His first boundary coming two balls later when he flicked one past square leg with utmost ease. Now, it was Fidel Edwards' turn to tease Tendulkar with a packed leg-side field -- two fielders strategically placed to cover a mistimed hook. Then came the Tendulkar trademark straight drive -- the shot that has skipped heartbeats for three decades.

Edwards continued to stray down to his pads, Tendulkar played the finest possible leg lance, but Rampaul did well to save a four. That shot was perhaps only second best to the straight drive -- because of how acute the angle was. It was pure genius. The next ball, he caressed Edwards with the perfect cover drive. Two balls later, he upper cut Edwards for a six to get into the nineties. By this time, he had 26 off just 16 balls for the day.

The master continued to remain positive, even in 'the nervous nineties'. That was best displayed by his big stride forward, or the way in which he ducked a well directed bouncer from Edwards.

Sound of silence
Then came the deafening sound of silence. Tendulkar, purely out of impulse went after a ball that was too close to cut, mounted on him. Darren Sammy at second slip pounced on to it. While some may argue it was lack of concentration, it could also pass off as a result of his attacking mindset. For those who question the Tendulkar who gets into a shell in the nineties would lose this argument. One way or another, a look at the wagon wheel indicates he was at his flamboyant best. On another day, he'd have played half the strokes he did and still got a hundred. Cricket, it's a beautiful sport.

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