On this day: Sachin Tendulkar slams maiden Test century, and it didn't stop there

Centurion Sachin Tendulkar shared an unbeaten 160-run partnership with Manoj Prabhakar to help India save the second Test against England at Old Trafford, Manchester.

Sachin Tendulkar walks off to an ovation from the English players after helping India save the Test with an unbeaten 119.   -  Getty Images

On the evidence of the Old Trafford Test, the entire cricketing world must be concerned about the quality of international bowling. Truthfully, India has an even bigger problem than England. Indeed it is not so much difficult as impossible to see how India can level the series at The Oval, so poor the standard. Nor is it likely that England will be able to dismiss India twice to stretch the present one-match lead.

It seemed to me that the pitch at Old Trafford made life tougher for two weak hands of bowlers. It had no pace at all, nor did the bounce change noticeably from Thursday to the following Tuesday. That is an unmistakable argument for the assumption that the groundsman over-watered the pitch.

It is a common enough problem at the moment because everyone engaged in that honourable calling seems to live in terror of a strip breaking up towards the end of a match and causing some horrific injury. Apparently this strip was drenched for 24 hours, too long by far, whereupon the Manchester climate, traditionally rainy, decided to double the dose.

There was no chance of having a decent cricket match on this turgid surface. Groundsman should not be so scared of allowing a match to start on a properly dried out surface. Gooch won the toss for England and his men batted for almost two days as they had done at Lord's, this time amassing 519. Three of the England side made centuries, Gooch himself and yet again, Atherton and Robin Smith who needed considerable cooperation from the last man, Malcolm, before he could pass the magic mark. Hirwani and Kumble caused some problems but the pitch was too slow for either of them.

Read: Steve Smith has the ability to go past Tendulkar, says Chris Rogers

Kapil Dev appeared to give up at an early stage and Prabhakar is not much of a threat in
these conditions. Shastri, too, did not seem keen to be central to the bowling action and that is a sure sign of limited expectation, death to a bowler's confidence and wicket-taking potential. There was a time on the third morning when if England could have added quickly to the three wickets taken overnight, Sidhu, Shastri and Vengsarkar, India must have succumbed. It was held up, as it happened for most of the day, by Azharuddin and Manjrekar.

Both batted beautifully, attacking the balls that were inviting and never letting any bowler dominate for more than a single over. In 1952, at Leeds, Manjrekar's father and the then captain Vljay Hazare, put on 222 for the fourth wicket and this pair came within 33 of equalling it. I was desperately hoping that they would, when Manjrekar was out and later the skipper, to a tired shot which ended in cover point's hands, Tendulkar had to stay whilst the follow-on was avoided and whilst India climbed to within reach of England's total.


Sachin Tendulkar scored an unbeaten 119 off 189 balls.   -  V. V. Krishnan

The second new ball accounted for some wickets, one of them rather doubtful, and in the end Tendulkar had as improbable a final partnership with Hirwani as England had enjoyed.
The last three days were all effected by the weather but only slightly. No real time was lost. Nonetheless England did not start its second innings until the fourth morning. Once again it batted pretty much as it pleased. Kapil Dev bowled better and Gooch failed. Atherton made runs again and this time so did Lamb, whose first innings lasted long enough for him to show real doubt and concern against the leggies. He started feebly the second time too, but got away with some doubtful strokes, eventually feeling confident enough to hit successive sixes straight off the spinners, taking a leaf out of Kapil's book.

England needed less than half an hour on the final morning to reach a comfortable total
which required India to make 408 to win the match. Smith was undefeated on 61. The final day provided fascinating watching. Sidhu was caught off bat and pad to the very first ball bowled by Fraser, the young substitute from Derbyshire, Adams, flinging himself
across the pitch in front of the batsman to hold the catch.

Shastri then played a poor stroke and when he had made 32 Vengsarkar played no stroke at all the ball crashing into timber on both occasions. Both Azharuddin and Manjrekar fell to catches in the leg trap fielding to the offspinner Hemmings and at 127 for 5 with almost two sessions remaining it looked unlikely that India could sustain much resistance.

The 17-year-old Tendulkar had other ideas. With support from Kapil until a wild heave down the pitch to the spinner, Tendulkar inspired Prabhakar who needed little urging being as awkward a customer to opponents with the bat as well as ball. He was not going to surrender, Tendulkar had a close shave. Hemmings ought to have caught and bowled him on his right side. There was another easy chance for England when a slip chance from Prabhakar went through between Gooch and Lamb at second and first slip without a hand laid upon it.

England took a new ball but if anyone was going to get India out it was the spinners and although the ball was turning Hemmings needed ten overs for every wicket whilst Atherton had only four overs all day. Gooch as captain, could have done better, but the bowlers were not accurate enough and on this slow pitch.

India deserved to save the match because of the positive cricket in adversity. England did not have the bowling to succeed. Tendulkar was made man of the match. Only Mushtaq Mohammed has ever scored a century in Test cricket at an earlier age. And he was only a month younger. Tendulkar is a better player and provided his feet stay on the ground and his head is not turned by adulation, India has a batsman who will survive well into the 21st century.

Contrast his experiences with that of the 26-year-old Morris on trial for England. He was out to a vile strike for not many in the first innings and was so badly bruised by a fierce hit from Smith which hit his arm at the non-striker's end on the fourth evening that he could not resume on the fifth morning. That all may be bad luck; one just feels that Tendulkar, the budding genius, is not subject to such slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. There are still some empty berths in the England team for the Australian tour.

Meanwhile we read that Morrison is to spearhead a new bowling attack for New Zealand in Pakistan and that Imran Khan feels the tour should be called off because the New Zealanders cannot raise a better side. It really is hard to see where these bowlers are coming from, maybe they are being burned out too quickly. That was why Gatting, Fraser's county captain, ticked off Gooch, the England skipper, for bowling his man in too long spells.

That's what happens when there are too few quality bowlers in the game. Those that are any good find themselves overbowled. When you are taking wickets with reasonable frequency such extra exertion is bearable. Otherwise it can be a killer.

(From the Sportstar archives, published in 1990)

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