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Sachin Tendulkar was foiled yet again in his pursuit of a 100th international century, as Peter Siddle atoned in the final over for an earlier no-ball that reprieved Rahul Dravid, on another absorbing day of the first Test between Australia and India at the MCG.
Driven largely by Tendulkar’s stand of 117 with Dravid, India reached a threatening 3 for 214 in reply to Australia’s 333, but cursed the loss of Tendulkar for 73 on the stroke of stumps. Only a handful of overs had passed since Dravid had been bowled by Siddle and handed another start after Marais Erasmus’ check revealed a front-foot transgression.
The confrontation deflected momentary attention from Gambhir, whose best touch has been missing for most of 2011. Here he scratched around for three runs in 23 balls, the last of which was a shortish, seaming delivery from Hilfenhaus that Gambhir edged forlornly behind with an open face. Dravid arrived with the ball still new and Sehwag not yet into stride.
Quietly, the pair established themselves, offering due deference to some wholehearted bowling and accumulating runs in ones and twos before any great flurry of boundaries could be sought. The 15th over was reached before Sehwag opened up, twice stroking Siddle to the offside boundary, then repeating the trick by crashing Lyon to the sightscreen off successive balls to pass 50 from a sedate – by his standards – 59 balls. The next delivery brought a miscue and a quarter-chance to long on, where David Warner may or may not have reached the ball before it touched the turf.
Pattinson drew another chance from Sehwag’s flailing bat when an edge behind was turfed unattractively by Brad Haddin, and it appeared India would reach the interval without further loss. But Pattinson’s fire and persistence were justly rewarded in the moments before tea, with another freewheeling driving resulting in an inside edge that tilted middle stump.
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