COLOMBO, SRI LANKA // Sachin Tendulkar magnanimously deflected the attention from the fifth double-century of his Test cricket to heap praise on Suresh Raina who made a hundred on his debut yesterday. Tendulkar, 37, cemented his position as cricket's leading run-scorer by adding 95 runs to his overnight score of 108, sharing 256 runs for the fifth wicket with Raina, the left-handed batsman, who made 120.
India closed day four on 669 for nine in reply to Sri Lanka's first innings score of 642 for four declared. With India 27 runs in front and just a day's play remaining, the match is heading for a draw at Sinhalese Sports Club (SSC). "I don't count the runs that I am scoring," said Tendulkar, who now has nearly 14,000 runs in the longest form of the game. "It's nice to be scoring runs and I am enjoying as much being in the middle as in the past."
Tendulkar averages more than 55 in Test cricket, 45 in one-day internationals (ODI) and nearly 40 in Twenty20 cricket. As for Raina, who had been seen as a limited-overs specialist having played 98 ODI matches, showed that he can adapt to Test cricket by facing 228 balls and occupying the crease for nearly five hours. "He showed tremendous character," Tendulkar said. "He was solid in defence and played some magnificent shots. I thought this particular innings was terrific because when he got in to bat it was a tricky time. At that time a big partnership was needed and both of us were able to do something special."
India were 241 for four - and needing 200 more runs to avoid the follow-on - when Tendulkar and Raina came together. Tendulkar made Sri Lanka pay for a dropped catch by Prasanna Jayawardene, the wicketkeeper, off Dilhara Fernando, the fast bowler, when he was on 29 runs, scoring his sixth Test century this year. He faced 347 balls and stroked 23 boundaries and a six. Raina was the first batsman dismissed yesterday caught by Kumar Sangakkara at mid-wicket off Ajantha Mendis, the spinner. He hit 12 boundaries and two sixes. Raina, in the process, became only the ninth Indian to score a century in the first innings of his Test debut. Tillakaratne Dilshan, the top-order batsman and part-time off-spinner, then ended Tendulkar's epic knock by taking two wickets in the third over after tea yesterday. He had Tendulkar caught behind by Prasanna Jayawardene for 203 before Harbhajan Singh drove his delivery through midwicket only to find the safe hands of Sangakkara. But the pitch at SSC continued to favour batting with MS Dhoni, the India captain and No 7 batsman, scoring 76 off 138 balls. Even Abhimanyu Mithun, the tailend batsman, scored 41 runs off 97 deliveries before getting out to a loose shot, trying to paddle-sweep a straight ball.
Tendulkar's reaction was a natural one when he said that the pitch was tough for the bowlers. "It's a tough track to bowl on," he said. "It's a batting paradise." Mendis, who replaced the retiring Muttiah Muralitharan, returned Test-best bowling figures of four for 157 for Sri Lanka while Dilshan had three for 50. Trevor Bayliss, the Sri Lanka coach, praised his bowlers for their consistency and discipline on a flat pitch.
"What we are happy about is that we stuck to our game plan and have been able to bowl to those fielding plans," Bayliss said. "Everyone knows it's been a very good batting wicket and a very difficult one for the bowlers to bowl on. "We've been striving for over a period of time to be consistent and have discipline and we've shown that. Some of the plans may not have worked, but at least we bowled according to those plans and made it as difficult as possible for the Indians to score." * AP
1st inns 2nd inns Total Opposition Ground Year 88 10* 98 Australia Mohali 2008 68 47 115 Australia Delhi 2008 109 12 121 Australia Nagpur 2008 37 103* 140 England Chennai 2008 11 5 16 England Mohali 2009 160 DNB 160 New Zealand Hamilton 2009 49 64 113 New Zealand Napier 2009 62 9 71 New Zealand Wellington 2009 4 100* 104 Sri Lanka Ahmedabad 2009 40 - 40 Sri Lanka Kanpur 2009 53 - 53 Sri Lanka Mumbai 2009 105* 16 121 Bangladesh Chittagong 2010 143 DNB 143 Bangladesh Dhaka 2010 7 100 107 South Africa Nagpur 2010 106 - 106 South Africa Kolkata 2010 8 84 92 Sri Lanka Galle 2010 203 - 203 Sri Lanka Colombo 2010 Innings: 28; Runs: 1,803; Avg: 75.12; 100s: 9; 50s: 6
At stumps on the fourth day of the second Test between Sri Lanka and India at Sinhalese Sports Club. Sri Lanka 1st Innings: 642-4 declared India 1st Innings (Overnight 382-4) Murali Vijay lbw b Mendis 58 Virender Sehwag st P Jayawardene b Randiv 99 Rahul Dravid lbw b Randiv 3 Sachin Tendulkar c P.Jayawardene b Dilshan 203 VVS Laxman lbw b Mendis 29 Suresh Raina c Sangakkara b Mendis 120 Mahendra Singh Dhoni c and b Dilshan 76 Harbhajan Singh c Sangakkara b Dilshan 0 Abhimanyu Mithun b Mendis 41 Ishant Sharma not out 10 Pragyan Ojha not out 0 Extras: (9b, 5lb, 12nb, 4w) 30 TOTAL: (for 9 wickets) 669. Overs: 198. Batting time: 830 minutes. Fall of wickets: 1-165, 2-169, 3-173, 4-241, 5-497, 6-592, 7-592, 8-643, 9-668. Bowling: Dammika Prasad 19-1-96-0 (4nb), Dilhara Fernando 31-1-116-0 (5nb, 3w), Angelo Mathews 9-1-24-0 (1w), Suraj Randiv 64-14-212-2, Ajantha Mendis 54-7-157-4 (3nb), Tillakaratne Dilshan 21-4-50-3. Umpires: Daryl Harper and Rod Tucker, Australia TV Umpire: Ranmore Martinesz, Sri Lanka Match Referee: Andy Pycroft, Zimbabwe. Toss: won by Sri Lanka. Series: Sri Lanka leads three-match series 1-0.