Tendulkar ton puts India in strong position on opening day of final Test

Last updated at 10:55 25 January 2008

India's master batsman Sachin Tendulkar cracked his 39th Test century to put his side in a strong position on the opening day of the fourth Test against Australia.

The diminutive Tendulkar, playing probably his last Test on Australian soil, produced a vintage display to score an unbeaten 124 and help the tourists reach 309 for five at stumps at Adelaide Oval.

Opener Virender Sehwag (63) and middle-order batsmen Vangipurappu Laxman (51) also posted half-centuries as the Indians carefully set about building an imposing total on a flat pitch tailor-made for high scoring.

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Sachin Tendulkar

The Australians, 2-1 up in the four-match series, started the day well, capturing four early wickets but were unable to find a way to get rid of Tendulkar, who frustrated and tormented their bowlers for nearly five hours.

"I was determined to get a big one here and it also happens to be Sir Don's (Bradman) home ground," Tendulkar said.

"When I was batting I was not thinking about that, I was just concentrating, but I am very glad to get a hundred here."

Left-arm seamer Mitchell Johnson dismissed makeshift opener Irfan Pathan for nine and former skipper Rahul Dravid for 18 to give the Australians the upper hand before lunch.

Express paceman Brett Lee removed Sehwag early in the middle session before wrist spinner Brad Hogg trapped Saurav Ganguly lbw for seven to reduce India to 156-4.

However, Tendulkar and Laxman steadied the innings with a 126-run partnership for the fifth wicket before Lee finally got rid of Laxman after tea, leaving wicketkeeper Mahendra Singh Dhoni (six not out) to carry on with Tendulkar to stumps.

"At the end of the day the game's pretty even at the moment," Hogg said. "If we can make some inroads with the new ball tomorrow and roll India before they get to 400 I think we're in the box seat if we can bat well and get in front."

Tendulkar has been the form batsmen in this intriguing series, scoring an unbeaten hundred in the Sydney Test and half-centuries in Melbourne and Perth, but saved his best for last.

He started cautiously but brought up his fifty off 77 balls then reached triple figures off 133 deliveries, smashing part-time spinner Michael Clarke down the ground for a six then a four to pass the milestone.

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Adam Gilchrist and Brett Lee

"In the first innings, to put a big total on the board will be the key," Tendulkar said, "Later on, I think the wicket might have some big cracks, so

the first innings becomes very important.

"We would look to score as many runs as possible tomorrow because that is going to be the key."

Laxman, who also scored a hundred in Sydney, had a let-off on 37 when he was dropped by wicketkeeper Adam Gilchrist but was unable to really cash in and make a big score. He brought up his fifty with successive boundaries off Hogg

but departed in the next over, gloving a catch off Lee to Gilchrist.

Pathan was promoted to open the innings after Wasim Jaffer was dropped to make way for spinner Harbhajan Singh, but the strategy did not work and he fell cheaply when Johnson found the edge and Gilchrist took a routine catch.

Dravid shared a 48-run partnership with Sehwag before he also fell to a catch behind off Johnson, getting a thick edge to Ricky Ponting at second slip.

Sehwag, who returned to the test arena for the first time in over a year in last week's third Test in Perth, struck six boundaries in a typically dashing innings.

He raced to his half-century off just 68 balls but fell early in the second session when he edged Lee to Matthew Hayden at first slip.

"The pitch should take more spin as the game goes on," Hogg said. "Over the last couple of years it's always been pretty good for batting if you get in so it's up to our batsmen to make sure they post a good sort and we bowl well in the second innings."