Test on knife edge - Sachin
Bangalore - India's Sachin Tendulkar on Tuesday predicted a close finish in the second and final cricket Test against Australia after scoring a brilliant double century.
"This match is at a critical stage and it is all about how we handle pressure on the last day," Tendulkar told reporters after the fourth day's play at the Chinnaswamy stadium in Bangalore.
After Tendulkar had made 214 to give India a slender 17-run lead, the Aussies slumped to 131-5 in their second innings before recovering to post 202-7 by stumps.
Australian captain Ricky Ponting thwarted India's charge with a fluent 72, his second half-century of the match, before he was dismissed by seamer Zaheer Khan towards the close.
Australia, seeking a series-levelling win after losing the first Test in Mohali by one wicket, start the final day's play 185 runs ahead with three wickets in hand.
Tendulkar said it was important to end Australia's innings early because any target would be tough on the wearing fifth day pitch.
"The wicket has slowed down and the cracks have widened," he said. "It will not be an easy track to bat on tomorrow."
India took their overnight score of 435-5 to 495 before they were all out at the stroke of lunch in reply to Australia's 478.
Tendulkar's dismissal at 486-5 triggered a lower order collapse in which the last five Indian wickets fell for nine runs.
"It was very disappointing to lose five wickets so quickly, but such is the nature of Test cricket," the Indian star said.
"We have come back very well in the match because the bowlers have done such a fantastic job."
Tendulkar, who was on 191 overnight, reached his double century 25 minutes after the start with a quick single off Ben Hilfenhaus.
It was the world batting record holder's sixth double-century and his second in four Tests, having made 203 against Sri Lanka at the Sinhalese Sports Club in Colombo in July.
The 37-year-old, who is in his 21st year in international cricket, has already notched up six three-figure knocks this year, besides making 98 in the previous Test in Mohali.
Tendulkar was dismissed in the second over after resumption of play when he edged an intended cut off fast bowler Peter George onto his stumps, giving the tall South Australian a treasured first Test wicket.
The Indian's vigil at the crease lasted nearly nine hours, in which he hit 22 boundaries and two sixes.
"It is always satisfying to score a century against Australia, because they are such a top side," said Tendulkar.
"I am enjoying the game as much as I did before. One has to just keep trying and not worry about the results. Our support staff keeps me fit and going."
George, who turns 24 on Saturday, was delighted at claiming Tendulkar as his first Test victim.
"It would have been nice to take that wicket couple of hundred runs earlier, but I will take it anyway," he said.
"We have three wickets in hand and we have runs on the board, so we will try to bowl them out and win the match."