Cricket: Tendulkar magic fails to do trick

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Lancashire . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .264-3

Yorkshire . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 260-6

Lancashire win by four runs

A MAGNIFICENT second- wicket stand of 176 in 24 overs between Sachin Tendulkar and Richard Blakey yesterday almost took Yorkshire to an incredible victory in the Sunday League over Lancashire who, after being put in, had made 264 for 3, the highest 40-over score here, and ultimately prevailed by four runs.

Yorkshire soon lost both openers but Tendulkar combined powerful driving with any amount of exciting oriental wizardry and improvisation to reach a memorable 107 from 73 balls - his first hundred for Yorkshire - and conjure up an unexpectedly thrilling climax before Neil Fairbrother's direct hit from extra cover effectively decided the issue in the 37th over. He found an ideal partner in Blakey (86), who played some good shots of his own and also did his best to take the pressure off Tendulkar when the latter seemed to tire.

The 50 stand came in 47 balls, Dexter Fitton's first two overs of off-breaks going for 28 including a glorious straight drive for six and a delightful late cut for four by Tendulkar, and on it went. Sadly, it did not quite go on long enough.

Lancashire themselves had been given a sound start but in the 23rd over were 110 for 3 and Yorkshire were well back in the game. It was then that Fairbrother joined Nick Speak and runs came at a torrential rate.

Speak, who has been given a real chance for the first time this year, is a most exciting stroke maker. It now took him a few minutes to settle in, but then he took full and glorious advantage of some sadly wayward bowling to register his maiden Sunday century.

His 102 not out came from 79 balls with 10 fours and two sixes while Fairbrother's undefeated 64 took 50 balls and incorporated three fours and two sixes. They put on 154 in 104 balls and took Lancashire to a score which made just about everyone on the ground except Tendulkar feel that victory was inevitable.