Cricket: Sidhu's striking century tames Sri Lanka

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The Independent Online
India 269-3 v Sri Lanka

NAVJOT SINGH SIDHU, the Indian opening batsman, struck an extravagant century on the first day of the first Test against Sri Lanka in Lucknow yesterday and narrowly failed to match a 62-year-old Test record.

Sidhu made a masterly 124 as India, electing to bat first on a lifeless wicket, scored 269 for 3. The tall, 30-year-old Sikh hit eight sixes - just two sixes short of Wally Hammond's record of 10 sixes in a Test innings, set against New Zealand in 1932.

However, Sidhu had the satisfaction of compiling his highest Test score, with his fifth century in 28 Tests, surpassing the tally of 116 he has made against the West Indies and New Zealand. Restricted to just 27 runs in the morning session, when India could only score 47 without loss, he hit out after lunch.

Six of his eight sixes were struck from the off-spinner, Muttiah Muralitharan, who conceded 30 runs in his first three overs. He earned his revenge, though, by having Sidhu caught at long-on an hour after tea.

Sachin Tendulkar, the 19-year-old vice-captain, teamed up with Sidhu for a stand of 121 for the third wicket, delighting the 15,000 fans watching the first Test in the city in 42 years. Tendulkar was unbeaten on 88 at the close, chasing a seventh century in 29 Tests. With his captain, Mohammad Azharuddin, he has put on 65 for the fourth wicket in 78 minutes.

(First day; India won toss)

INDIA - First Innings

M Prabhakar lbw b Liyanage. . . . . . . . .21

N S Sidhu c Kalpage b Murlitharan1. . . . .24

V G Kambli run out . . . . . . . . . . . . .5

S R Tendulkar not out . . . . . . . . . . .88

* M Azharuddin not out. . . . . . . . . . .20

Extras (lb3 nb6 w2) . . . . . . . . . . . .11

Total (for 3). . . . . . . . . . . . . . .269

Fall: 1-63 2-84 3-205.

To bat: S V Manjrekar, Kapil Dev, N Mongia, A Kumble, R K Chauhan, Venkatapathy Raju.

Bowling (to date): Wickramasinghe 16-3-47-0; Liyanage 15-6-41-1; Ranatunga 3-2-1-0; Anurasiri 27-6-62-0; Kalpage 9-1-30-0; Muralitharan 20-2-85-1.

SRI LANKA: * A Ranatunga, R S Mahanama, D P Samaraweera, P A de Silva, H P Tillakaratne, R S Kalpage, P Dissanayake, M Muralitharan, G P Wickramasinghe, D K Liyanage, S D Anurasiri.

Umpires: S K Venkataraghvan and R C Sharma.

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