Sachin milestone looms large

2011-11-04 14:31
Sachin Tendulkar (File)
New Delhi - The anticipation of a 100th international century from Sachin Tendulkar will arouse interest in a three-Test series between India and the West Indies which begin in New Delhi on Sunday.

The Little Master's return along with crowd favourites Virender Sehwag and Yuvraj Singh could also help arrest a slide in attendance after a recent limited overs series against England was played to half-full galleries, a rarity in cricket-crazy India.

Tendulkar, who returns after a toe injury kept him out of recent engagements including the home games against England, has scored 51 centuries in Tests and 48 in one-dayers.

Fans have been waiting for the milestone since this year's World Cup, when Tendulkar inched closer by hitting tons against England and South Africa.

But the 38-year-old missed a tour of the West Indies during which India won a three-Test series 1-0 and could only play tests during a full tour of England, which ended disastrously for injury-hit India as it failed to win a single game.

England whitewashed India 4-0 in Tests to also wrest the top ranking from the one-day world champion.

India, now with most of its stalwarts back in action, will use the series against the West Indies to prepare for an upcoming tour of Australia.

India's full-strength batting line-up which also includes Gautam Gambhir, Rahul Dravid and VVS. Laxman, will be expected to make up for an inexperienced bowling attack after selectors decided to back the second rung for the first game at the Ferozeshah Kotla Stadium.

In the absence of spearhead Zaheer Khan, pace bowlers Umesh Yadav and Varun Aaron, both yet to play Tests, have been selected along with Ishant Sharma.

The spin department is without Harbhajan Singh who has been consigned to domestic cricket for the time being. Pragyan Ojha is the only one to have played Tests with off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin and leg-spinner Rahul Sharma completing a new-look spin attack that gets a chance to shine in home conditions.

"We're thinking of the long run," chief selector Krishnamachari Srikkanth said after the team was announced last week. "We've to look at building the side from the perspective of the future."

As for the West Indies, they have already enjoyed some success early on the tour of the subcontinent, winning the second Test against Bangladesh to clinch its first away series win in eight years.

After Kirk Edwards struck a patient 121 in the first innings at Mirpur, stylish left-hander Darren Bravo hit a fine 195 in the second innings to set up a memorable win.

Leg-spinner Devendra Bishoo then produced his maiden five-wicket haul to complete a 229-run victory that sealed the series 1-0.

"It is always good to win especially when your young players are doing well," West Indies coach Ottis Gibson told reporters after a practice session on Friday. "India may have a young bowling attack but their batsmen carry a lot of experience.

"They have several big names like Tendulkar, Dravid, Sehwag and Gambhir and it is going to be tough for our bowlers even though we have a good seam attack and a good spinner in Bishoo."

The Ferozeshah Kotla Stadium, which was banned for one year after offering a dangerous pitch for a one-dayer against Sri Lanka in 2009, is hosting its first test in three years. The last Test here was against Australia in November 2008.

The second Test against the West Indies will be played in Kolkata from Nov. 14-18 and the final Test in Mumbai from November 22-26.

The Test series will be followed by one-dayers in Cuttack on November 29, Visakhapatnam on December 2, and Ahmadabad on December. 5, Indore on December 8 and Chennai on December 11.


Gautam Gambhir, Virender Sehwag, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, V.V.S. Laxman, Yuvraj Singh, Ajinkya Rahane, Virat Kohli, Mahendra Singh Dhoni (captain), Ravichandran Ashwin, Rahul Sharma, Pragyan Ojha, Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav, Varun Aaron.

West Indies: Adrian Barath, Kraigg Brathwaite, Kieran Powell, Kirk Edwards, Darren Bravo, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Kemar Roach, Marlon Samuels, Carlton Baugh, Darren Sammy (captain), Ravi Rampaul, Denesh Ramdin, Shane Shillingford, Fidel Edwards, Devendra Bishoo.

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