Sachin Tendulkar led a terrific India revival on Day Two of the first Test against Australia in Chennai, while James Pattinson starred with three wickets for the tourists on Saturday. The veteran batsman — the highest run-scorer in Test cricket — strode to the crease with his team in trouble at 12 for two, in response to Australia’s first-innings score of 380.
And he delivered when his team needed most, scoring a superb unbeaten 71 — from 128 balls and including six fours — as the tourists finished on 182 for three, leaving the match evenly poised with three days remaining. The early wickets of Murali Vijay (10) and Virender Sehwag (two) heaped the pressure on Tendulkar, with Australia paceman Pattinson (three for 25 off six overs) doing the early damage.
Pattinson, who was bowling at speeds of up to 150 kmph in short, sharp spells, removed Vijay when he inside-edged a full ball onto leg stump, while Sehwag fell in a similar manner two overs later. Sehwag’s dismissal was more bizarre, though, with the batsman’s inside edge bouncing into the pitch and looping up.
The batsman quickly turned around but was unable to locate the dropping ball, before it crashed into leg stump to spark wild celebrations amongst the Australians. Tendulkar — who will turn 40 later this year — headed to the crease without a Test century since January 2011. But he has hit two hundreds for Mumbai in four matches of domestic cricket in 2013 and started in stunning fashion, hitting three of his first four deliveries for boundaries to the delight of the home crowd.
Tendulkar and Cheteshwar Pujara (44) steadied the ship with a 93-run partnership for the third wicket before Pattinson struck again. This time he bowled a brilliant off-cutter which beat the gap between Pujara’s bat and pad with ease before crashing into off and middle stump. It was another fine piece of bowling from the Victorian, but his colleagues failed to cause the same amount of problems.
And Tendulkar joined forces with Virat Kohli (50 not out) to guide India to a good position at stumps. Left-armer Mitchell Starc and spinner Nathan Lyon bowled the bulk of the Australia overs while paceman Peter Siddle was also unsuccessful. Moises Henriques and Michael Clarke were also used by the tourists.
Earlier, Australia resumed on 316 for seven, with captain Clarke 103 not out, and they quickly set about increasing their lead. Clarke looked immediately comfortable at the crease while the defiant Siddle - who faced 94 balls for his 19 runs - held up an end as the tourists pushed past 350.
Clarke, who should have been sent back to the pavilion on 39 when he clearly edged the ball onto his thigh pad before being caught in close, was given another reprieve on 128 when Pujara spilled a tough chance at mid-off from the bowling of Ravindra Jadeja.
But the gritty 54-run partnership between Clarke and Siddle, which took exactly 29 overs to compile, came to an end four overs later when the former holed out to Bhuvneshwar Kumar at mid-off. Jadeja got his man and Harbhajan Singh made his first breakthrough in his 100th Test in the next over when Siddle edged to Sehwag at slip.
Pattinson (15 not out) and Lyon (three) added a further 16 runs in 12 overs for the final wicket before their resistance was finally broken.
It was fitting that R Ashwin (seven for 103) would be the man who would end the innings, with the spinner capping an outstanding first two days with the wicket of Lyon.
Sachin Tendulkar’s half-century is his seventh in Chennai. In 15 innings at the venue, Tendulkar has scored 947 runs with five centuries and two fifties. Tendulkar also went past 7000 runs in home Tests during the knock.
Australia 1st Innings: 380 India 1st Innings: 182-3 (Sachin Tendulkar batting 71, Virat Kohli batting 50;
James Pattinson 3-25)