| ASTLE: 42 off 23 balls in first innings
Christchurch: Sachin Tendulkar hammered 72 off just 27 balls but that did not prove enough to stop an equally belligerent Max Blacks as the Indians lost their New Zealand tour-opening Super Max international match by 21 runs here on Wednesday.
Playing in the unique format for the first time, the Indians did well to take the lead in the 10-over per innings match played under lights but lost way in the second essay.
India rested captain Sourav Ganguly and his deputy Rahul Dravid but Tendulkar turned up the heat on the hosts by slamming the record 72 and picking up five wickets to be adjudged Man-of-the-Match.
Tendulkar, returning to international cricket after missing the one-day series against the West Indies at home due to a hamstring niggle, thrashed 10 fours, two eights and a twelve. He also claimed the home captain Chris Cairns in both innings but it was not enough for the visitors.
Max Blacks batted first on winning the toss and secured 123 for five on the board from their 10 overs but trailed the visitors by 10 runs in the first innings as Tendulkar showed blistering form with the bat.
The hosts seemed down and out when on 70 for five in the second innings with just two overs remaining to recover lost ground. But part-time off spinner Virender Sehwag then went for 31 runs in his only over to turn the tide in favour of the hosts. A goodly crowd of 10,000 people, gathered to have its first look of the famed Indian batting line-up was not disappointed.
Max Black’s first innings was largely the handiwork of opener Nathan Astle (42 off 23 balls) and Craig McMillan (34 off 18), but Tinu Yohannan was also extremely impressive in mixing up his deliveries and finished with one for ten in his two overs. The Indians lost opener Sehwag early but Tendulkar, ever since he swatted his first ball from Shane Bond past point, showed himself in extremely competitive mood.
Tendulkar looked distraught whenever a bad throw was made and was keen enough to run to the wicketkeeper’s end to collect wide throws showing his hunger for big-time cricket which could only be good news for India in the weeks ahead.
Max Blacks were lagging in the second innings before Sehwag’s over opened the floodgates for them. Opener Brendon McCallum produced an innings of 67 from just 30 balls that turned the match.
McCallum, fighting for the wicketkeeper-batsman’s slot with Chris Nevin, did his cause no harm after India struck regular blows at the start of their second innings.
Opener Nathan Astle was stunningly caught by a leaping Sanjay Bangar at mid-off off Ajit Agarkar; McMillan was frustrated by Zaheer Khan’s nagging accuracy and Cairns (7) and Scott Styris (6) were also dismissed early.
In the second innings, the Indians lost Tendulkar early after he was caught on the on side off Jacob Oram for five.