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AN EPIC EFFORT:Sachin Tendulkar, who delighted with bold brush strokes of genius on the canvas — the colours celebrating batsmanship, showed he still is an explosive athlete; he still has the eye of the tiger.
Gwalior: His heart larger than frame, Sachin Tendulkar lifted his arms in triumph. At 36, he had become the first man to conjure a double hundred in One-Day Internationals.
The maestro's unbeaten 200 was an epic effort of focus, flair and dare. His passion for the golden Indian crest undiminished, the little big man oozed character after India elected to bat and ran up a mammoth 401 for three — its highest score against South Africa — on a belter at the Roop Singh Stadium.
In the process, he delighted with bold brush strokes of genius on the canvas; the colours celebrated batsmanship. He still is an explosive athlete; he still has the eye of the tiger.
Man-of-the-Match Tendulkar's spirit-lifting effort proved a match-winning one. South Africa wilted under the pressure of a big chase to go down by 153 runs. With a match remaining, India has taken a winning 2-0 lead in the series.
Key man Herschelle Gibbs played on to Praveen Kumar attempting a paddle. The free-stroking Hashim Amla — he struck four elegant boundaries in an Ashish Nehra over — miscued a pull off an impressive S. Sreesanth. And Jacques Kallis, playing away from his body, dragged a widish delivery from Nehra to his stumps.
Abraham de Villers, using his feet well, working the ball around and finding the gaps, made a defiant unbeaten 114, but South Africa was in with little chance. To make matters worse for the visitors, the ball kept a shade low under the lights.
Earlier, the atmosphere inside the Roop Singh Stadium was electrifying as Tendulkar glided paceman Charl Langveldt to squarish third-man off the third ball of the 50th over and scampered for a single for his 200th run. The crowd erupted, non-striker Mahendra Singh Dhoni and the South Africans walked up to congratulate the legend, and his team-mates in the pavilion were up on their feet.
Soon, Tendulkar, undefeated, walked back to a standing ovation. His monumental double century (200, 147b, 25x4, 3x6) was his 46th ODI century. His incredible journey of blood, sweat and conquests continues.
Opening the innings, he had batted through the 50 overs. Tendulkar's commitment shined through in the manner he ran between the wickets. He also batted through pain.
The hectic brace in the 47th over – third ball – when he worked left-arm paceman Wayne Parnell behind square and completed two enabled him to go past the previous highest ODI score – 194 by Pakistan's Saeed Anwar and Charles Coventry of Zimbabwe.
Tendulkar, his sights set on a historic double century, was restrained in his celebrations, attending to his right hamstring even as Dhoni and Mark Boucher greeted his achievement.
The Indian innings also featured a busy 79 (85b, 5x4, 3x6) of crisp hitting by Dinesh Karthik – he added 194 for the second wicket with Tendulkar – a power-packed 23-ball 36 from Yusuf Pathan – in the batting Power Play overs between 35 and 39 South Africa conceded 63 – and a brutal 68 not out (35b, 7x4, 4x6) by Dhoni. The Indian captain bludgeoned the South African pacemen with wristy blows of immense power.
The astonishing afternoon, however, belonged to Tendulkar.
He was light on his feet and heavy with his shots. His batsmanship does have an ethereal quality about it.
It is also timeless; the ease with which Tendulkar rolls back the years is remarkable.
The maestro's symphony before a delirious crowd here had some captivating notes. His mind and body in harmony, Tendulkar cover-drove Parnell to the fence. Nobody moved as the ball struck the boards. The outfield was fast, Tendulkar's timing made it appear quicker.
The feature of his batting has always been his ability to pick the length in a jiffy. He, thus, is decisive as he ventures into a front-foot drive or punches, cuts or pulls off his back-foot.
When Steyn bounced at Tendulkar, he was pulled fiercely. Tendulkar was meeting fire with fire.
All the aspects were in order - a still head, a high left-elbow, and a lovely extension of the willow - as he off-drove Parnell. Tendulkar's batting is underlined by perfect balance.
The legendary cricketer's supple wrists were on view when he flicked Langeveldt - the paceman bowled with stitches under his left eye after being injured while fielding - and glanced left-arm spinner van der Merwe fine.
Tendulkar also displayed another facet of his batting. He created room with deft footwork by skipping besides the line of the ball and lofted van der Merve over covers from leg-stump.
The master batsman continued to innovate, slicing Steyn over point and pulling Jacques Kallis over a leaping mid-wicket after completing his hundred.
When Langeveldt provided a hint of width, he was square-driven to the fence in a manner that was silken. Then the maestro picked the paceman from outside the off-stump to strike them past square-leg. Tendulkar blended power with finesse.
The maestro's innings was splendidly paced. His 50 consumed 37 balls, 100 came in 90, and 150 in 118. The South Africans ran out of ideas.SCOREBOARD
India: V. Sehwag c Steyn b Parnell 9 (11b, 1x4), S. Tendulkar (not out) 200 (147b, 25x4, 3x6), D. Karthik c Gibbs b Parnell 79 (85b, 4x4, 3x6), Y. Pathan c de Villiers b van der Merwe 36 (23b, 4x4, 2x6), M.S. Dhoni (not out) 68 (35b, 7x4, 4x6); Extras (lb-3, w-5, nb-1): 9; Total (for three wkts. in 50 overs): 401.
Fall of wickets: 1-25 (Sehwag), 2-219 (Karthik), 3-300 (Pathan).
South Africa bowling: Steyn 10-0-89-0, Parnell 10-0-95-2, van der Merwe 10-0-62-1, Langeveldt 10-0-70-0, Duminy 5-0-38-0, Kallis 5-0-44-0.
South Africa: H. Amla c Nehra b Sreesanth 34 (22b, 7x4), H. Gibbs b Praveen 7 (8b, 1x4), R. van der Merwe c Raina b Sreesanth 12 (11b, 1x4, 1x6), J. Kallis b Nehra 11 (13b, 2x4), A.B. de Villiers (not out) 114 (101b, 13x4, 2x6), A. Petersen b Jadeja 9 (16b, 1x4), J.P. Duminy lbw b Pathan 0 (1b), M. Boucher lbw b Pathan 14 (31b, 1x4), W. Parnell b Nehra 18 (43b, 1x4), D. Steyn b Sreesanth 0 (4b), C. Langeveldt c Nehra b Jadeja 12 (11b, 3x4); Extras (lb-5, w-8, nb-4): 17; Total (in 42.5 overs): 248.
Fall of wickets: 1-17 (Gibbs), 2-47 (van der Merwe), 3-61 (Amla), 4-83 (Kallis), 5-102 (Petersen), 6-103 (Duminy), 7-134 (Boucher), 8-211 (Parnell), 9-216 (Steyn).
India bowling: Praveen 5-0-31-1, Nehra 8-0-60-2, Sreesanth 7-0-49-3, Jadeja 8.5-0-41-2, Pathan 9-1-37-2, Sehwag 5-0-25-0 .
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