Cricket: Sidhu and Tendulkar digging in for India

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The Independent Online
West Indies 291 India 219-2

India lost a wicket to the day's third ball but then Navjot Singh Sidhu and his captain, Sachin Tendulkar, painstakingly consolidated their strong position in the second Test against the West Indies yesterday.

Starting from the powerful base of 171 for 1 replying to 296, India suffered an immediate setback when Curtly Ambrose went past Rahul Dravid's back- foot defence to knock out the off-stump with a ball that kept low. After that there was neither joy nor luck for the West Indies from either a slow pitch or unsympathetic umpires and three-quarters of an hour after lunch India had moved to 241 for 2. Sidhu had moved from 102 at the beginning to 134 and Tendulkar was 36.

Neither batted with any certainty against a persistent West Indies fast attack and there were repeated appeals for lbw, thick edges and missed strokes. No decision was closer than that ruled in favour of Tendulkar by the Australian umpire, Steve Randell, to the second ball he received from Ambrose. Offering no stroke and thrusting his left pad at one that came back in, Tendulkar was lucky to be reprieved. The West Indians dumbfounded.

There were testing spells from Ambrose, Courtney Walsh and the impressive newcomers, Franklyn Rose and Mervyn Dillon, that restricted the Tendulkar and Sidhu to 48 runs from 29 overs in the two hours before lunch.

On resumption Tendulkar, 26, was within centimetres of playing on off the inside edge to Walsh, and survived another lbw appeal against Rose. But gradually the ball was leaving the bat with an increasingly reassuring sound. At the opposite end, the phlegmatic Sidhu went past the highest of his seven Test hundreds, 124 made against Sri Lanka three years ago and the West Indies were in for a difficult last couple of days.

Sidhu had found his form on Saturday after a poor first Test and put India on top after they had bowled out the West Indies for 296, Roland Holder coming within nine runs of a maiden Test century.

(lunch scoreboard; West Indies won toss)

WEST INDIES - First innings 296

INDIA - First innings

(Overnight: 171 for 1)

V V S Laxman lbw b Ambrose 0

N S Sidhu not out 123

R S Dravid b Ambrose 57

*S R Tendulkar not out 26

Extras (b2 lb6 nb 5) 12

Total (for 2) 219

Fall: 0, 171.

To bat: S Ganguly, M Azharuddin, N R Mongia, A Kumble, S Joshi, A Kuruvilla, B K V Prasad.

Bowling: Ambrose 22-5-43-2 (nb 1); Walsh 22-9-37-0 (nb 2); Rose 18-3- 49-0 (nb 2); Dillon 18-3-50-0; Hooper 12-2-30-0; Chanderpaul 1-0-2-0.

Umpires: L Barker, S Randell (Aus). TV replay umpire: R Gosein.