Tendulkar finds form vs Lions

Some fine batting from Sachin Tendulkar steered India out of a hole against England Lions on the second day of their final tour game before the First Test. Making Owais Shah pay dearly for dropping him at gully on 53, he made an attack that had reduced his team to 65 for 4 look wholly ordinary in the course of a scintillating 171. After sitting-out the game against Sussex, he has stamped his mark emphatically on the tour and can feel full of confidence ahead of the start of the series on the 19th.

The Lions had started the day on 379 for 8 and the Indian bowlers could not take the final two wickets, Tim Bresnan finishing on 126* and Chris Tremlett smashing a quickfire 32*. Eventually, Andrew Strauss declared on 413. Graham Onions soon unsettled the Indian top-order, dismissing Wasim Jaffer (1) and VVS Laxman (0) in his opening over. Jaffer fell to a ball that moved back in sharply which beat his attempted forward prod, in a very similar manner to his dismissals at Hove. Onions soon proved he could move the ball away, too, with a lovely outdipper that took a thin outside-edge and gave Tim Ambrose an easy catch. Before long, Stuart Broad got in on the act, too, though he was fortunate to be given Dinesh Karthik’s wicket as a ball that seamed away beat the outside edge. Bat clipped pad, however, and the Umpire raised the finger.

Tendulkar, however, hit the ball cleanly from his arrival. He and Sourav Ganguly led a mini-revival, taking the tourists to 63 for 3 at lunch, with Tendulkar dominating a stand of 49, scoring 37* off 46 balls. Just 2.2 overs after the break, however, Ganguly fell to Chris Tremlett, ambitiously attempting to pull a delivery angled across him, succeeding only in offering a simple skied catch, and the bowler made no mistake. Later that over, Tendulkar clipped Tremlett in the air to Bopara at leg-gully, but it was something even Jonty Rhodes would have struggled to hold.

For the next 38 overs, the drop from Shah aside, both Tendulkar and Yuvraj Singh played imperiously. Tendulkar reached his century off just 140 balls, displaying most of the repertoire that has come to be known so well and has been seen so sadly irregularly for the last 5 years. He was particularly harsh on Adil Rashid’s raw leg-breaks, and the 19-year-old Yorkshire all-rounder conceded 90 off just 12 overs. Yuvraj played, by his standards, a patient hand, taking what was there, and playing an excellent supporting role to the master. Eventually, however, his patience ran-out, and he flashed at a very wide ball from Broad, succeeding only in sending it straight to Strauss at the sole slip. Mahendra Dhoni, however, picked-up the cue from Tendulkar, and earned some much-needed time in the middle. Eventually, Tendulkar began to play one-day strokes, testing himself to the full. He succeeded for a time, indicative of how well he was striking it, but eventually gave Shah at mid-off the chance to atone for his earlier error, and this time the Middlesex batsman made no mistake. It had cost 118, however. Ramesh Powar fell to Ravinder Bopara’s part-time seamers, but Zaheer Khan struck an extraordinary 6-ball 18* and Dhoni reached the close with an aggressive 44 to his name.

The Indians will hope Dhoni can get as much as possible early on tomorrow, then that the bowlers can atone for their wayward first-innings efforts. One day of cricket remains before the much-anticipated start of the Test series.

England Lions 413 for 8 declared
Joseph Denly 83, Jonathan Trott 46, Tim Bresnan 126*, Stuart Broad 50

Indians 336 for 7
Sachin Tendulkar 171, Yuvraj Singh 59, Mahendra Dhoni 44
Graham Onions 3-69

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