Scorecard | Match pictures | Sachin wows Wankhede | Relive Sachin's 74 | Farewell SRT
MUMBAI: It was almost as if two matches were being played in one. The morning began with the ground abuzz, a billion TV sets tuned in and Sachin Tendulkar in the middle. Once Tendulkar was out for 74, after adding 36 to his overnight score, a strange silence engulfed the stadium – the people’s match had ended, and a routine second Test of a one-sided series had resumed.
It mattered very little to the adulatory masses that India, thanks to Cheteshwar Pujara’s almost unnoticed fifth century and Rohit Sharma’s second consecutive ton (made largely in the company of last man Mohammad Shami) had gone from strength to strength and now held the game in a vice-like grip.
Having piled on 495 in reply to the West Indies’ first innings 182 – for a lead of 313 – India had the visitors staring squarely at another innings defeat at close. Darren Sammy’s team were tottering on 43/3 in the 12-odd overs they had to contend with late in the evening, with the spinners R. Ashwin and Pragyan Ojha accounting for all three wickets to fall. The West Indies trail by 270 runs.
Big innings player
India took things ahead from 157/2, with Tendulkar overshadowing everything else in the first session. Pujara, however, pleased with his aggressive streak and kept ticking along at a steady pace. His only moment of concern turned out to be a gift: the Saurashtra batsman was fortuitously adjudged ‘not out’ on 76 by the third umpire after Kieran Powell appeared in replays to have had his fingers under the ball at short-leg.
Of the eighth instances that he has crossed fifty, Pujara has now converted five into triple-figure knocks, a clear indication of his penchant for playing long innings. Soon after reaching the landmark, he offered a return-catch off the leading edge to Shane Shillingford, a bowler against whom he hadn’t quite been on top. In came Virat Kohli, who will now be staking a claim on the permanent occupancy of the No.4 spot, after Tendulkar’s retirement.
Kohli began briskly – the only way he knows to bat – and raced to his half-century in quick time. The Delhi batsman was also looking good for a ton when he too fell to Shillingford: a straightforward catch that Sammy gobbled up at slip. Skipper MS Dhoni became a victim to the second new ball, as R. Ashwin joined Rohit and compiled a solid 30.
Rohit had not yet reached his half-century when India lost Ashwin, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Ojha for the addition of six runs, and settled down on 415/9, with the last man Mohammad Shami making his way into the middle. This meant that Rohit would need some decent support from the fast bowler if he were to get a second century in as many matches. Shami obliged willingly.
Playing the role of a sleeping partner to perfection, hung around for 29 balls and 15 runs, as the pair added 80 for the last wicket. This was time enough for Rohit to get to his century, but not before (when he was on 85) his mow over cow corner was taken intelligently at the boundary. Luckily for the batsman, replays showed that the bowler, Shillingford, had overstepped by a mile. Mr. Sharma did not need further invitation. He biffed Best for boundaries, before a lofted six off Marlon Samuels over long-on gave him his second Test century.