Sachin Tendulkar's imperious 45th one-day century failed to prevent India going behind 3-2 in their series against Australia last night. While Tendulkar was at the crease, India had a realistic chance of overhauling their opponents' total of 350 for four, and as his predictably breathtaking innings went on they were clear favourites to do so.
But a combination of Australia's astuteness in keeping Tendulkar away from the strike and a late flurry of Indian wickets in the face of a large total left them three runs short. Tendulkar, his footwork and timing impeccable, reached his hundred in 81 balls and faced only 141 in all to make 175 with 19 fours and four sixes.
When he was out with a paradoxically limp top edge, India's hopes went with him. It had seemed as though he would become the first player to reach a double hundred in a one-day international as he accelerated dazzlingly in the middle overs of the innings.
But Australia, constantly depleted by injuries on this tour, deserved to take the lead in the seven-match series after an opening stand of 145 between Shane Watson and Shaun Marsh, who scored his maiden international century.
Tendulkar now has 87 international hundreds in all, including the 42 he has made in Test matches, and as he so glowingly illustrated before his adoring followers in Hyderabad last night, it remains possible that he could be the first man to an international century of centuries.