After Tendulkar agony, Ashwin lifts India

Saturday, 26 November 2011 01:07 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

MUMBAI (Reuters): Sachin Tendulkar fell agonisingly short of his 100th international century once again before off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin lifted India’s spirits with his maiden test ton on the fourth day of the third test against West Indies on Friday.

India finally reached 482 all out in reply to West Indies’ 590 and left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha sent back Adrian Barath (3) and Kirk Edwards (17) early to raise India’s hopes of an unlikely victory,

However, Kraigg Brathwaite (34 not out) and Darren Bravo (27 not out) then thwarted the visitors to take West Indies to 81 for two at the close.

Ashwin, who took five wickets in the West Indies’ innings, scored 103 to bring the smiles back to the faces of the Mumbai crowd after the disappointment of Tendulkar’s latest near miss.

Ashwin hit 15 boundaries and two sixes in his 118-ball knock and steered paceman Ravi Rampaul to the third man boundary to bring up his century. He departed to the next ball, miscuing a pull shot to leave India trailing by 108 runs.

Tendulkar, unbeaten on 67 overnight, hit three boundaries and a six in the first session and looked set to secure the century that has eluded him since he last reached triple figures against South Africa during the World Cup in March.

With the whole of India celebrating every run as he closed on the landmark, Tendulkar’s innings came to an abrupt end on 94 when he edged Rampaul to West Indies captain Darren Sammy at second slip.

Virat Kohli (52) brought up his maiden half-century in tests, and with Ashwin took India past the follow-on mark.

Kohli and Ashwin stood firm and added 97 runs for the seventh wicket after India were reduced to 331-6 and needed a solid partnership in the wake of Tendulkar’s shock departure.

The tail hung in with Ashwin to help him complete his 100 after Kohli hit leg-spinner Devendra Bishoo straight to Fidel Edwards at mid-on.

India had resumed on 281-3 and Sammy was rewarded for taking the second new ball immediately when Vangipurappu Laxman (32) fell to the first ball of the day’s second over.

Laxman was dismissed when he drove the first ball he had faced, bowled by paceman Fidel Edwards, straight to Marlon Samuels at gully after he and Tendulkar had added 63 runs for the fourth wicket.

India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni did not last long either, clean bowled by Sammy for eight to expose the home team’s tail.