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India close in on series whitewash; Tendulkar falls for 74

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A billion eyes turned towards their television sets in India on Friday morning with mass leave having been reported across the corporate world as fans the world over tuned in to see their hero Sachin Tendulkar walk out to bat for quite possibly the last time. India resumed their innings at 157-2 with Tendulkar unbeaten on 38 and kept company by young Cheteshwar Pujara, also in his 30s.

The duo continued their excellent partnership on the second morning in Mumbai with Tendulkar surviving a hostile spell of fast bowling from Tino Best, who ran in with tremendous energy and consistently hit the 90mph mark. The Master responded though by getting to his half century with a searing straight drive of his own and looked good for a lot more before he fell to the massive disappointment of his fans for 74, caught brilliantly at slip by Darren Sammy off the innocuous part-timer Narsingh Deonarine, attempting a late cut.

At the other end, Pujara had enjoyed easily the best seat in the house and also brought up a deserved half-century. The rookie no.3 was very lucky to be given not out by the third umpire when for all the world the catch taken at bat-pad off Shane Shillingford looked clean. The youngster went into the lunch break unbeaten on 85. Virat Kohli at the other end was scoring at better than a run a ball and had notched up 36 as India took lunch at 282-3.

The West Indies continued to be on the backfoot early after lunch with Kohli and Pujara continuing to score runs at a fair clip. Kohli was the first to reach a milestone, racing to his half century before edging a Shillingford delivery through to Sammy at slip, with the bowler earning just reward for coming round the wicket and trying something different to upset the batsman. Kohli fell for 57, and Pujara followed him soon after getting to his century, making 113 before gifting Shillingford a simple caught and bowled.

West Indies took the second new ball as soon as it became available and were instantly rewarded with the wicket of the Indian skipper MS Dhoni, who was the first real failure of the innings, caught at slip off Tino Best for 4. The onus was now on India's heroes from Kolkata - Rohit Sharma and R Ashwin - to take the hosts to a winning score to ensure that the team would not need to bat last on what would no doubt be a trying pitch as this match wore on.

The West Indies picked up a bonus wicket on the stroke of tea with Ashwin (30) failing to roll his wrists over an attempted pull shot and gifted Shannon Gabriel his first wicket of the tour. India headed into Tea at 413-7, leading by what many believe would be a sufficient 231 runs.

The West Indies struck twice immediately after the interval to remove Bhuvneshwar Kumar (4) and Pragyan Ojha (0) and it looked like the Indian innings was going to get wrapped up pretty soon. However, they ran into stiff resistance in the form of no.11 Mohammad Shami, who was brilliantly kept off strike for as long as possible by an in form Rohit Sharma. Sharma did an outstanding job of manipulating the field and farming the strike and joined a highly elite club of cricketers to score centuries in their first two test innings.

The young Mumbaikar remained unbeaten on 111, adding 67 of those runs in the company of the last man as India were finally bowled out for 495, 313 runs to the good.

The West Indies had 13 overs to survive at the end of the day's play and predictably struggled. India wasted no time in introducing spin at both ends and Ashwin struck early to have Kieran Powell caught in the deep. Tino Best was sent out as the nightwatchman, a brave decision considering the conditions. It didn't pay off, though Best might feel aggrieved at being given out leg before to an Ojha delivery that may not have hit the stumps. Ashwin wrapped up the day perfectly for India by getting rid of Darren Bravo with a beaut as West Indies slumped to 43-3, still 270 runs behind with just 7 wickets in hand.

India look the favourites to wrap up this game tomorrow and bring an early end to Tendulkar's farewell series.


India: Shikhar Dhawan, Murali Vijay, Cheteshwar Pujara, Sachin Tendulkar, Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, MS Dhoni (c & wk), Ravichandran Ashwin, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Pragyan Ojha, Mohammed Shami

West Indies: Chris Gayle, Kieran Powell, Darren Bravo, Marlon Samuels, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Narsingh Deonarine Denesh Ramdin (wk), Darren Sammy (c), Shane Shillingford, Shannon Gabriel, Tino Best

Mini Scorecard:

West Indies 1st Innings 182 all out (55.2 overs)

K Powell 48 (80) P Ojha 5-40

D Bravo 29 (63) R Ashwin 3-45

India 1st Innings 495 all out (108 overs)

C Pujara 113 (160) S Shillingford 4-141

R Sharma 111* (127) N Deonarine 2-45

S Tendulkar 74 (118)

West Indies 2nd Innings 43-3