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Sehwag puts India in command
Tendulkar misses double record

Mohali, March 10
Virender Sehwag continued to torment Pakistan with a blistering 173 as India took command of the first cricket Test by piling a healthy first innings lead here today.

The dashing Sehwag showed no mercy as he cracked his ninth Test century to power the hosts to an imposing 447 for six at close on the third day which saw Sachin Tendulkar (94) come agonisingly close to dethroning Sunil Gavaskar from the top position in the list of leading Test century-makers.

The Indians have already taken a significant 135-run lead with four wickets in hand and would now press for a victory in the remaining two days on a track which was expected to wear down a little bit.

The stylish VVS Laxman was batting on 33 and Irfan Pathan was giving him company on one at stumps on another satisfying day for the hosts.

The 26-year-old Sehwag stole the limelight yet again with a barrage of strokes to tilt the game in India's favour before Abdul Razzak brought to an end his belligerence, but not before the Delhi marauder had belted 19 boundaries and two sixes.

While Sehwag went for his strokes, Tendulkar was quite content to play a supporting role as the duo stitched 118 runs for the third wicket.

But there were heart-breaking scenes at the PCA stadium towards the end of the day when Tendulkar was dismissed just six runs short of what could have been a record 35th century, which would have made him the leading century-maker in Test history.

 Tendulkar, in search of his 35th hundred and the looming 10,000 runs, for which he needed a total of 121, was largely the reason India couldn't make more than what they ended up with at close.

Such was the excitement among spectators watching Sachin Tendulkar enroute to his record 35th Test century that they cheered for him forgetting their nationalities and also expressed disappointment on abrupt halt of his juggernaut.

Sachin's Pakistani fans were disheartened when the Indian was stopped short of six runs to reach the milestone.

"I wanted Sachin to score a century. I watched him play in Pakistan long back when he made his Test debut against us way back in 1989-90 in Karachi," said Shahid, a Pakistani fan.

"He was playing so cautiously. He should have made it, but it is unbelievable," said another die-hard cricket fan, who wished Tendulkar had scored a century to surpass the record of 34 Test hundreds he shares with his compatriot Sunil Gavaskar.

A young Indian cricket-lover, Harkirat Singh, said "I just can't believe it. I think the new ball did not prove lucky for him".

Tendulkar, who needed just six runs to surpass the Gavaskar's record and another 27 to reach 10,000 runs in Test cricket, gave his wicket to Rana Naved-ul Hasan.

Tendulkar, who faced momentary distraction when there was some movement in front of the sight screen, was batting in his 80s then.

"I wish he gets a chance to score his hundred in this Test only. It will be great if he achieves this milestone on Punjab soil," said Prabhjot Singh.

The hosts could muster a mere 263 runs from 90 overs after such a blistering start was an opportunity missed for India.

It must have left Sehwag a little deflated in the dressing room for his massive 173 was just the kind of innings which should have allowed India to hang Pakistan out to dry.

Ironically, Tendulkar was in peach form in his first 50 which came off 78 balls and included seven fours. His next 44 was worth a labour of 122 balls and nearly four hours.

From his half century onwards, every next 10 runs took Tendulkar an average of 30 balls which hurt India's cause when they were looking to press on the pedal.

Tendulkar walked in to bat at 216 for 2 and his initial thrust suggested India would not lose momentum against a pedestrian Pakistan attack, barring Danish Kaneria.

Though Tendulkar on eight survived a misjudgment from Rudi Koertzen who negated a straightforward catch at silly point off Danish Kaneria, he looked in silken touch in his first hour in the middle.

Then Sehwag departed, pulling Abdul Razzaq from outside the off-stump into the hands of Yousuf Youhana at mid-on, and the innings screeched to a grinding halt. PTI


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