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Tendulkar, Dravid give India upper hand

In pursuit of 276 against West Indies, their third-highest run-chase in history, India went to stumps breathing easy yesterday at Delhi

Just as the third day of the first Test between India and West Indies here at Feroz Shah Kotla threatened to outdo the chaos of the Day 2 that saw 17 wickets tumble, Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar, the two highest run-getters in Tests, brought calm to the proceedings. The hosts drew stumps yesterday at 152-2 in pursuit 276, which if managed today would be their third-highest successful chase in history.


India in control: Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar walk back to the
pavillion at close of play yesterday. Pics/AFP


Dravid and Tendulkar were unbeaten on 30 and 33 respectively.  The first two sessions was a see-saw wrangle for ascendancy as R Ashwin, who took six wickets, which gave him a match haul of 9-128, the second-best for an Indian debutant, trapped Shivnarine Chanderpaul leg-before to leave West Indies in tatters at 124-8.


Super debut: Ashwin is embraced by his teammates for a sixth wicket
yesterday.


However, skipper Darren Sammy's quickfire 42 pushed the visitors to 180. West Indies had the upper hand.
India openers Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir came out firing on all cylinders. A potentially game-changing moment occurred in the fourth over when Sehwag mistimed a straight-drive only for Ravi Rampaul to drop a rather simple return catch. Sehwag then went after spin twins Marlon Samuels and Devendra Bishoo.

India powered to the 50-run mark when Sehwag went against the turn to hit a massive six over the extra-cover region. After Gambhir was trapped leg-before by Samuels, Sehwag and Dravid added 44 until the former chopped on a Sammy delivery.

India were 95-2 as Tendulkar walked out with a million dollar question posed by a commentator: "Are there enough runs to chase for Tendulkar to get his 100th hundred?"

With the departure of Sehwag, there was a finally a maiden over in the Indian innings. Dravid and Tendulkar refused to play across the line. Suddenly, the West Indies bowlers were shown some respect that was so hard to find with Sehwag at the crease.

Tendulkar was even happy to leave a wide full toss from Bishoo to a three-six off-side field in place. With neither batsmen willing to take risks, some drama ensued in the dying stages of the day. Soon after Tendulkar was congratulated for reaching 15,000 Test runs, he nudged one in front of square leg and took for a single.

However, a laidback Dravid did not ground his bat at the precise moment when there was a direct hit at the striker's end. Television replays indicated that Dravid's feet were in the air when the bails came off. Luckily for India and for Dravid, the benefit of the doubt went in their favour.

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