Rain spoils Tendulkar's party

G. VISWANATH

SACHIN TENDULKAR'S first century in a Test match at the home of cricket was a treat to watch for those who were privileged to be there. It was in 1990 when Tendulkar had just passed the litmus test of being adequately equipped to handle the force of high level cricket and be one among the big boys that he made his first tour to England with the national team. He had faced the likes of Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis in Pakistan before going to England on his second major tour. To be part of the Star CC was different from being a part of a team led by Mohammad Azharuddin. Tendulkar did not let down the people who had picked him for the tour. He made a match-saving 119 at Manchester in a little under four hours. Six years later he made 177 against England at Trent Bridge. While Tendulkar was consistent against England in the Test matches, he failed to produce a three-figure knock against it in the one-dayers.

But, unlike against Australia, India had not been lucky enough to play against England many times. The players rarely get a chance to visit the country a third time in a period of 12 years. This is Tendulkar's third official visit to England as part of an Indian team for a full tour. Lord's waited in anticipation to see Tendulkar in action. (It was only India's third one-day international at Lord's in 27 years.) But Tendulkar disappointed a packed audience at Lord's. An up and down bowler, Ronnie Irani, managed to dismiss him for just one run. India won the match against England, but the laurels went to Rahul Dravid and Yuveraj Singh. However, the 29-year-old did not let down the huge contingent of Indian supporters who had travelled to a new venue in North-East of England to see the second India-England match of the competition.

Sachin Tendulkar steers Ashley Giles during his stroke-filled century. It was Tendulkar's first three-figure knock in one-dayers against England.-N. SRIDHARAN

England fast bowler, Darren Gough, had recovered in time to play his second match of the tournament. He dismissed Sourav Ganguly off the first ball and James Kirtley god rid of Virender Sehwag. Tendulkar got to the crease at 48 for two but soon Dinesh Mongia was back in the pavilion when the score read 52. There was no demon in the pitch, but the England bowling just about managed to hustle the top three Indian batsmen. Having scored 31 centuries and over 11,000 runs, Tendulkar knew how to turn the fortunes of his team. He put his head down and defended against the bowlers who did not afford him width to pull and cut and the length to drive.

England captain Nasser Hussain made a few smart moves. His tactics were responsible for keeping Tendulkar quiet in the home series and here again he did not delay in introducing Irani (who had taken Tendulkar's wicket at Lord's) and Andrew Flintoff. Irani bowled 10 overs for 23 runs and Flintoff conceded 36 off his 10 overs. With Rahul Dravid offering able support, India moved from 52 for three to 116 for three in 25 overs. At this stage one had not imagined India would reach a total of 285 for four, adding 169 runs in the last 25 overs. Yuveraj's brilliant 40 off 19 balls was largely responsible for a rousing finish.

A game of cricket finally boils down to the figures at the end and it was just that on this day when the top order failed, the middle order came to the rescue and turned things around and with batsmen such as Tendulkar and Dravid handling things it was not a surprise that India was able to post a total close to 300.

Tendulkar was in the vanguard of the Indian recovery. He was at the crease for nearly three hours and faced 108 balls to make 105, his first century against England and that too in England. Dravid made an attractive 82 before swinging Paul Collingwood into the hands of Flintoff in the deep. The pair gave a remarkable exhibition of how to construct a partnership when the going was indeed tough and the rival was on top.

Rahul Dravid, who scored 82, was involved in a 169-run partnership for the third wicket with Tendulkar.-N. SRIDHARAN

England captain Hussain went to the extent of writing in his column that England should learn lessons from the innings of Tendulkar, whose fine effort came in for high praise, but the value of his contribution was not fully realised when rain interrupted the match when England was 53 for one at the end of 12.3 overs. The two teams shared four points.

The scores:

India: S. Ganguly lbw b Gough 0; V. Sehwag c Trescothick b Kirtley 16; D. Mongia c Flintoff b Gough 27; S. Tendulkar (not out) 105; R. Dravid c Flintoff b Collingwood 82; Yuveraj Singh (not out) 40; Extras (lb-8, nb-2, w-5) 15. Total (for four wkts in 50 overs) 285.

Yuveraj Singh, who came in at the fall of Dravid's wicket, made a whirlwind 40 in just 19 balls.-N. SRIDHARAN

Fall of wkts: 1-0, 2-48, 3-52, 4-221.

England bowling: Gough 10-0-52-2, Kirtley 10-0-77-1, Flintoff 10-0-36-0, Irani 10-1-23-0, Collingwood 5-0-48-1, Giles 5-0-41-0.

England: M. Trescothick lbw b Khan 23; N. Knight (not out) 17; N. Hussain (not out) 9; Extras (lb-1, w-3) 4. Total (for one wkt. in 12.3 overs) 53.

Fall of wkt: 30.

India bowling: Nehra 6-0-21-0, Khan 6-0-31-1, Agarkar 0.3-0-0-0.