Tendulkar century weighs down Kiwis

Hamilton, March 20:

A near-flawless 160 by Sachin Tendulkar and three wickets for India in New Zealand’s second innings put the tourists in total charge on the third day of the first Test today.

At stumps the home side were 75-3, 166 runs short of wiping out a 241-run deficit after India posted 520. New Zealand made the worst start to their second knock when Tim McIntosh was given out after just three balls, caught at first slip by Tendulkar, in a questionable decision. Martin Guptill and nightwatchman Kyle Mills were the other two wickets to fall, with Daniel Flynn on 24 not out.

During his innings, Tendulkar gave one chance on 13, dropped by Flynn, but from then on was rarely troubled as he stroked his way to a record 42nd century, driving off the front and back foot, and cutting anything short to the boundary.

Resuming the day on 70, he raced into the 90s, cracking 20 in the opening four overs, including four fours from the first 11 balls he faced. He was eventually undone when he flashed at an Iain O’Brien delivery that flew off the pitch and was well caught at first slip by Ross Taylor. His 160, which included 26 boundaries, was the 14th highest score in the 35-year-old’s illustrious 157-Test career.

India started the day at 278-4, one run behind New Zealand’s first-innings total, and put on 106 in the morning session for the loss of only one wicket. Chris Martin bowled Yuvraj Singh for 22.

Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Tendulkar added 115 for the sixth wicket before O’Brien removed the Indian captain for 47, caught behind by Brendon McCullum. It was the start of a golden patch for O’Brien as he dismissed Tendulkar two overs later. But Zaheer Khan rode his luck to flail away for an unbeaten 51 in a 46-ball cameo to take the score past 500. Martin finished with figures of three for 98 while O’Brien took three for 103.

After New Zealand’s faltering start to their second innings, Guptill and Flynn put on 68 for the second wicket before Harbhajan Singh tempted Guptill with a half-volley which was hit straight to Virender Sehwag.

Guptill, on his Test debut, was out for 48 and nightwatchman Mills followed on the last ball of the day, trapped leg before wicket by Munaf Patel.