Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Thank god Sachin's 100th ton couldn't have come this way

It was an uncharacteristic Sachin Tendulkar versus a characteristic Pakistan in the semifinal. Even as the occasion got to some of the players, Tendulkar shaped India's total but the century of centuries, the 100th, could not have come in this error-prone way.

For a while out in the middle on Wednesday, though, it seemed Tendulkar was pre-ordained to achieve the feat here. He did everything wrong and kept surviving, and Pakistan's fielders did everything they could to aid his survival. Much of the pre-game build-up had seen Afridi posturing aggressively about his team's desire not to let the milestone happen here. The Pakistan skipper would have had his heart in his mouth for much of India's innings as his fielders scripted a comedy of errors around him.

The drama didn't begin with a dropped catch, though. The 11th over saw Saeed Ajmal breach Tendulkar's defences and Ian Gould promptly raising the finger. Out LBW. Not. Tendulkar, for long a vocal critic of the Umpire Decision Review System, finally saw the advantages as replays showed the ball missing leg. The very next ball, he narrowly survived being stumped too. Three overs later, on 27, Misbah-ul Haq dropped a sitter at midwicket as bowler Afridi looked on in astonishment. On 45, again off Afridi, Younis Khan made a hash of a relatively simple chance. This time, the skipper yelled and flung his arms in frustration.

A relatively quiet period where Tendulkar proceeded to build his innings was broken again on 70, when that doyen of botched chances, wicketkeeper Kamran Akmal failed to move to his right in time. It was a difficult one but the bowler, again, was Afridi, who by now had his head in his hands! Eleven runs later, Kamran's brother Umar dropped another catchable one at mid-wicket, this time off Mohammad Hafeez.

It seemed there was nothing more Sachin could do wrong. But with the ton only 15 runs away, Afridi himself dived and latched on to a drive to end the dream. The cat's nine lives had run out. Afridi had rediscovered his grin.

Sachin: Close Shave

Over 10.4
Saeed Ajmal raps Tendulkar on the pad and umpire Ian Gould raises the finger. Tendulkar goes for the review, replays show ball will miss leg stump.
Tendulkar on 23; India 75/1

Over 10.5
Ajmal goes past Tendulkar’s bat with a doosra who lunges forward as Akmal appeals for a stumping. Tendulkar just gets his leg back in time.
Tendulkar on 23; India 75/1

Over 13.1
Tendulkar pulls Shahid Afridi towards short mid-wicket where Misbah ul-Haq drops a sharp low chance.
Tendulkar on 27; India 84/1

Over 19.3
Tendulkar chips Afridi to Younis Khan at covers who drops a sitter at comfortable height near his shoulder. Ball was parried up but Younis failed to latch on off the second attempt as well.
Tendulkar on 45; India 116/2

Over 29.3
Afridi’s leg-spinner catches Tendulkar’s edge off a defensive push but Kamran Akmal fails to hold on to the ball.
Tendulkar 70; India 163/4

Over 34.6
Tendulkar goes for a whip-pull shot off Mohammad Hafeez, Umar Akmal at short mid-wicket jumps and gets two hands to the ball but it pops out.
Tendulkar on 81; India 183/4

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