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India all set with farewell gift to Sachin Tendulkar
Friday November 15, 2013 8:09 PM, IANS

Sachin Tendulkar's farewell Test is fast turning out to be a no-contest. India need seven wickets to wrap up the series and the West Indies have to score 270 runs more to avoid an innings defeat at the Wankhede Stadium here.

After Tendulkar enthralled a full house early Friday morning with a typically stroke-filled 74 in probably what could be his last Test innings, the two Gen-next stalwarts Cheteshwar Pujara (113) and Rohit Sharma (111 not out) told the maestro that Indian cricket is in safe hands by decimating the West Indies attack as India piled up a 313-run lead, totalling 495 in the first innings.

At the close of play, the West Indies, who were skittled out for 182 runs in the first innings, were 43 for three in their second knock. Chris Gayle was still out there on six and he alone can take the fight into the Indian camp. But the chances that India will finish the match in three days, like they did in Kolkata, are more than it going beyond.

The fans Friday saw batsmen of contrasting styles. If Tendulkar produced vintage stuff, Pujara was solid and Rohit was all craft and aggression.

There was a slump, too, when India lost four wickets for 94 runs in the post-lunch session, but the two century-makers made sure they stayed in command.

The highlight of the day, however, was Tendulkar's innings. Fans settled in their seats very early in the morning, anticipating a big knock from the master blaster. Resuming at 38, he enthralled the packed stadium with 36 more runs in fluent fashion.

He had a side show with pacer Tino Best, who troubled the master with some fiery bowling in the morning session. Tendulkar patted Best in appreciation.

It didn't take long for him to get to his 68th fifty, punching Best with a classy shot.

Wild celebrations broke out in the stadium, Tendulkar looked up at the sky and raised his bat in acknowledgement.

Tendulkar was in supreme touch and looked determined to get his 52nd Test century, second at this venue --- handpicked by him for his farewell. His first and only Test century at the Wankhede was way back in 1997, a fine 148 against the Sri Lankans in the first innings.

Tendulkar kept the crowd on their toes with his delightful trademark driving on either side of the wicket. One could easily remember the 12 fours he hit in his 118-ball knock.

Both Tendulkar and Pujara looked at ease in the pre-lunch session. It was the introduction of Narsingh Deonarine after drinks that did the trick for the West Indies and ended the 144-run stand for the third wicket. The part-time off-spinner dismissed Tendulkar with his fifth ball for what would remain the most cherished wicket of his career.

Tendulkar was done in by the extra bounce, but he was out to a splendid reflex-catch by first-slip Darren Sammy, who had a great day in the field snapping up five catches in the innings. The crowd was stunned to silence, but soon rose to give a standing ovation to their home hero.

In walked Virat Kohli, who scored a brisk 57 off 78 balls hitting five fours, and was involved in a 94-run stand for the fourth wicket with Pujara. While Pujara held one end up, Kohli took the attack to the West Indies with some exquisite stroke play.

Kohli fell soon after the lunch break, trying to defend a delivery from Shane Shillingford and edging the ball to Darren Sammy at first slip. Pujara, who struck 12 fours in his 167 ball innings, became Shilingford's fourth victim giving a simple return catch.

India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni (4) looked in trouble from the outset against Best and was finally dismissed by the pacer as a leading edge managed to find Darren Sammy.

Rohit then joined forces with Ravichandran Ashwin (30) to plunder the West Indies bowling. Ashwin hit four fours and a six during his short stay but departed in his attempt to pull Shannon Gabriel.

It was left to Rohit to arrest the slide. He treated the West Indies bowlers with disdain, hitting three sixes and 11 fours in his 127-ball stay.

With nine down for 415 runs, Rohit farmed the bowling, nursing Shami and the two added 80 runs for the last wicket. The young pacer, who also made his debut along with Rohit in Kolkata, batted sensibly and held his end up with some stout defence. Shami opened up only after Rohit got to his hundred. He clouted two fours before falling trying a third.

Shillingford was the pick of the West Indies bowlers picking up his second successive fifer (5/179).

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