Tue, Nov 27, 2007 - Page 20 News List

Tendulkar guides India to victory

AFP , NEW DELHI

Sachin Tendulkar completed an attractive half-century as India beat Pakistan by six wickets on the fifth and final day of the opening Test in New Delhi yesterday.

The hosts needed only 32 runs to win with seven wickets in hand to gain a 1-0 lead in the three-Test series, with Tendulkar (56 not out) completing the formality with his 46th Test half-century.

Resuming at 171-3, India achieved their 203-run target after just 6.2 overs yesterday morning. VVS Laxman remained unbeaten on six.

Tendulkar, 32 overnight, was in punishing mood as he pulled fast bowlers Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammad Sami for fours early in the morning.

He reached his half-century when he hammered leg-spinner Danish Kaneria through the covers for a boundary and finished the match with a square-cut four off Akhtar.

"Every time he [Tendulkar] goes out to bat he has to handle pressure and he has done it for the last 18 years," said India captain Anil Kumble.

"The hunger is there as always. He is definitely going to be number one Test batsman in terms of runs, centuries, everything," he said.

Tendulkar is the second-highest scorer in Tests with 11,207 runs and a record 37 centuries. Retired West Indies captain Brian Lara leads with 11,953.

Akhtar was the most impressive bowler, finishing with 4-58.

FIRE

He again bowled with fire, denying left-handed Sourav Ganguly a 50 in his second over of the morning. The Indian batsman was caught pulling by debutant Sohail Tanvir at fine-leg.

Ganguly fell on his overnight score of 48 after putting on 88 for the fourth wicket with Tendulkar to help ensure a comfortable victory. He hit eight fours in his 64-ball knock.

India virtually wrapped up the match on Sunday when they stopped Pakistan from setting a challenging fourth-innings target. They dismissed the tourists for 247 after gaining a 45-run first-innings lead.

"This ground is very special for me," Kumble said. "I think the boys responded very well. Everyone contributed in this win. The stand between Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Laxman in the first innings was very crucial. Laxman is a class player."

"Our bowlers kept pressure in the second innings and then came the Ganguly-Tendulkar stand, which was the turning point," he said.

The match was a personal triumph for veteran leg-spinner Kumble, who finished with seven wickets on his captaincy debut. He was named man of the match.

It was on the same ground that he became the second bowler in Test history after English spin bowler Jim Laker to grab 10 wickets in an innings against Pakistan in 1999.

"We are a good side and I am confident that we will recover. If we had made 300 in the second innings, we would have been in the contest," said Pakistan captain Shoaib Malik.

Malik was full of praise for Akhtar, saying the paceman's form augured well for the team.

"Akhtar was outstanding in this Test. The way he has been bowling is a good sign for us," he said.

SIX WICKETS

Akhtar bagged six wickets in the match, his first after serving a 13-match ban primarily for hitting team-mate Mohammad Asif with a bat ahead of the Twenty20 World Championships in South Africa in September.

Pakistan were let down by their batting. They could manage only 231 in their first innings and 247 in the second.

"We were 100 runs short in both the innings, especially in the second. A target of 280 or 300 would have been challenging. I'll not blame anyone for the defeat but the batsmen should have shown more responsibility," Malik said.

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