Sachin gets standing ovation as India chases down small target

Sachin Tendulkar enthralled briefly and Chepauk erupted. The crowd might have been small, but the roar was big. In what could be the last glimpse of the batting legend in the famous arena, India met with success.

The host emerged victorious by eight wickets in the first Test for the Border-Gavaskar Trophy at the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium here on Tuesday. The host now leads the four-match series 1-0, and Mahendra Singh Dhoni has drawn level with Sourav Ganguly’s record of 21 for most Test wins by an Indian captain.

Even after 195 Tests, only a few days short of 40, and with a treasure trove of memories, Tendulkar can whip up surprises. For the first time in his epic career, the maestro dismissed the first two deliveries he faced — from off-spinner Nathan Lyon — for sixes.

On a turning track, the ball’s lengthy flight ended beyond the wide long-on ropes. There was jubilation in the stands.

Tendulkar’s feats at Chepauk — he began his Test journey in Chennai with a wonderful 165 against England in 1993 — and his spirit-lifting face-offs with Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne are now part of the city’s cricketing lore.

The moment was steeped in emotion when Tendulkar arrived at the crease after a tentative Virender Sehwag (19) was held at slip off a Lyon delivery that straightened.

The loud cheers that accompanied the legend as he walked to the centre, turned into a hush when the maestro took guard. And there was celebration again when Tendulkar let go.

Nostalgia

Soon, the match concluded and Tendulkar shook hands with the Australians. Nostalgia was very much in the air as this incredible batsman was given a standing ovation on his way back.

His numbers at the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium are awesome — he has 970 runs in 10 Tests at 88.18 with five centuries. Yet, the sheer joy of his batsmanship often transcends the otherwise tremendous figures.

The other wicket to fall was Murali Vijay, who miscued an ambitious drive off James Pattinson to be splendidly held at short mid-off by Moises Henriques for six, but Cheteshwar Pujara and Tendulkar nailed a simple chase of 50.

Earlier, the Australian last-wicket resistance lasted eight overs when left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja — he got the ball to grip the surface — found the edge of Lyon’s (11) willow for a bat-pad verdict at short-leg.

The last-wicket pair had put on 66 before the Aussies were bowled out for 241. During that association which frustrated India, debutant all-rounder Henriques (81 n.o.) showed the heart for a battle. A dynamic and multi-dimensional cricketer, this 26-year-old New South Welshman is not daunted by adversity.

Dhoni changed match

Looking back, Man-of-the-Match Dhoni’s monumental, yet thrill-a-minute 224 was the single biggest factor in India’s win. “M.S. Dhoni changed the match,” conceded Australian captain Michael Clarke.

Off-spinner R. Ashwin tormented the Australians with his 12-wicket match haul.

“He’s got plenty of variations. That’s his strength. He bowled a better length in the match than earlier in the season,” said Dhoni.

The surface prepared by curator K. Parthasarathy was scarred with marks and assisted spin, but the captains were not critical of the track.

Clarke said, “To me, it was a good Test match wicket and played better than it looked. The match went into the fifth day.

No excuses

“There are no excuses for us. The pitch played well for both sides in the first innings, and then increasingly helped the spinners.”

“It (the pitch) looked ugly, but seemed to play better once you spent some time in the middle,” said Dhoni.

The India captain also indicated that opener Murali Vijay — he had scores of 10 and six in the Test — would retain his spot for the Hyderabad Test. “You got to give your openers a fair run, give them some time,” felt Dhoni.

The nature of the team’s batting — the number of left-handers in the Australian line-up — was the reason India selected two off-spinners said Dhoni. “Harbhajan bowled better in the second innings and Jadeja’s left-arm spin was consistent.”

Asked about playing a second paceman in these conditions, Dhoni responded, “Bhuvneshwar can bat and offers depth to the line-up. This is important when you are not playing an extra batsman.”

Conceding his batsmen faltered against spin, Clarke said, “We got to find a way against the ball spinning in both directions.”

Queried about the lack of depth in the Australian spin department and the composition of the attack, Clarke said, “It’s not about selection. It’s about how you perform.”

True words, indeed.

Scoreboard

Australia — 1st innings: 380.

India — 1st innings: 572.

Australia — 2nd innings: E. Cowan lbw b Ashwin 32 (97b, 3x4), S. Watson c Sehwag b Ashwin 17 (46b, 1x4, 1x6), D. Warner lbw b Harbhajan 23 (61b, 2x4), P. Hughes c Sehwag b Jadeja 0 (3b), M. Clarke lbw b Ashwin 31 (51b, 4x4, 1x6), M. Wade b Harbhajan 8 (22b, 1x4), M. Henriques (not out) 81 (148b, 6x4, 2x6), P. Siddle b Jadeja 2 (20b), J. Pattinson c Sehwag b Ashwin 11 (26b, 1x4), M. Starc c Tendulkar b Ashwin 8 (7b, 2x4), N. Lyon c Vijay b Jadeja 11 (77b, 1x4); Extras (b-15, lb-2): 17; Total (in 93 overs): 241.

Fall of wickets: 1-34 (Watson), 2-64 (Cowan), 3-65 (Hughes), 4-101 (Warner), 5-121 (Wade), 6-131 (Clarke), 7-137 (Siddle), 8-161 (Pattinson), 9-175 (Starc).

India bowling: Ashwin 32-6-95-5, Harbhajan 27-6-55-2, Jadeja 31-8-72-3, Ishant 3-1-2-0.

India — 2nd innings: M. Vijay c Henriques b Pattinson 6 (12b, 1x6), V. Sehwag c Clarke b Lyon 19 (23b, 3x4), C. Pujara (not out) 8 (24b), S. Tendulkar (not out) 13 (10b, 2x6); Extras (b-4): 4; Total (for two wkts. in 11.3 overs): 50.

Fall of wickets: 1-16 (Vijay), 2-36 (Sehwag).

Australia bowling: Pattinson 3-1-13-1, Lyon 5.3-0-29-1, Siddle 3-2-4-0.

Man-of-the-Match: M.S. Dhoni.

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