Sunday 18 February 2018

Tendulkar denied landmark as Swann wraps up clean sweep


David Clough

Sachin Tendulkar was dismissed nine runs short of a unique place in cricket history to kick-start England's hectic surge to victory and a 4-0 series whitewash of India at The Oval.

Tendulkar (91) and Amit Mishra (84) shut the hosts out for 46 overs in a third-wicket stand of 144 as the tourists dug in to try to save the final Test, before offspinner Graeme Swann (6-106) intervened to secure an innings-and-eight-run win. Tendulkar looked destined to become the first batsman to complete 100 international hundreds, only to fall lbw to a very good ball from Tim Bresnan and a marginal lbw decision.

The Little Master had endured many scrapes in a near four-hour stay. But when he eventually went shortly after Mishra, India folded alarmingly, losing their last seven wickets for 21 runs.

It was the culmination of an outstanding campaign during which England had already deposed India as the world's No 1 Test team.

A sell-out crowd assembled in the morning for the chance to pay homage to Tendulkar, but nightwatchman Mishra was just as comfortable as his illustrious partner, and the pair stayed together well beyond lunch as India began to believe they could escape with a draw.

Hope was fading, in an ever tightening equation for the hosts, by the time Mishra played inside a delivery that did not turn from Swann and knocked over off-stump.

He had hit 10 fours from 141 balls, and significantly inconvenienced opponents who could hardly believe how their luck had suddenly turned when Bresnan struck with the first ball of his second spell to spoil the Tendulkar fairytale again with a ball which jagged in off the seam would have hit leg-stump -- a judgment, narrowly confirmed by video simulation inadmissible in this series, which ended a typically high-class 172-ball innings.

England were on a familiar roll once more, and Suresh Raina did not seem likely to stand in their way for long.

So it proved as he contributed a 13-ball duck, to complete a pair from 42 deliveries in all, albeit lbw to one that took a faint inside edge and also might have cleared the stumps.

Captain MS Dhoni then proved powerless to resist the second new ball, well caught high at second slip by Swann as he drove loosely at Stuart Broad, and RP Singh fended the same bowler behind to Prior.

The majority of the crowd were already in celebratory mood, and got the go-ahead to cheer their team to the skies when Sreesanth was last out in a total of 283 half an hour before tea -- bowled, appropriately, by Swann.

Irish Independent

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