Heartbreak for Tendulkar, high for Ashwin
Sachin Tendulkar came agonisingly close to an unprecedented 100th international ton only to miss it by six runs but R Ashwin notched up his maiden century as India conceded a lead of 108 runs in the third Test against the West Indies which seemed headed for a draw on Friday.
While the packed Wankhede Stadium was stunned into silence after Tendulkar's dismissal, Ashwin's innings of 103, after his five-for with the ball, lifted India to 482 all out and helped him join an elite club on the fourth day.
The hosts hit back strongly when West Indies batted for the second time as left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha claimed the wickets of opener Adrian Barath (3) and Kirk Edwards (17) quickly but the visitors recovered to finish the day on 81 for two, an overall lead of 189 runs.
Kraigg Brathwaite (34 not out) was lucky to escape being caught at slip off Ashwin, and first-innings centurion Darren Bravo (27 not out), too, was let off in the last over by Virat Kohli at short leg off Tendulkar.
Ojha got the ball to turn and bounce to get rid off Barath, caught while driving, and Edwards was lured out of his crease and stumped.
Image: R Ashwin celebrates after completing his century
Tendulkar made to wait
Ashwin, who had grabbed five for 156 in West Indies' huge first-innings total of 590, surprised everyone with his batting abilities during his 180-minute stay at the crease before becoming the last Indian wicket to fall.
Image: Ravi Rampaul celebrates after picking up Sachin Tendulkar's wicket
Ashwin's rearguard action
The off-spinner put on 97 runs for the seventh wicket with Kohli (52), who compiled his maiden half century in 111 balls and with the help of with five boundaries, as the duo helped India avoid follow-on after the West Indian pacers removed VVS Laxman, Tendulkar and MS Dhoni.
Before Ashwin's arrival, Kohli had added 95 runs for the fifth wicket with Tendulkar, who got out with India 69 runs short of avoiding the follow-on. Dhoni fell when the team score was 331.
Ashwin advanced to 84 as India lost Ishant Sharma and Varun Aaron to be 463 for nine. The off-spinner completed his ton with a steer to third man for a four before being dismissed off the next ball.
Image: Darren Bravo congratulates R Ashwin after his century
Tendulkar looked good for 100th ton
In the morning, Tendulkar looked in imperious form as he drove and cut with authority before Rampaul, who was treated with disdain till then, got the batsman to edge one to slip after batting for 39 minutes.
The 38-year-old cricketer was shocked as he made his way back to the dressing room, leaving the West Indians jubilant.
He had slammed his 99th ton (111) against South Africa ina World Cup league match at Nagpur.
Image: Sachin Tendulkar
Laxman back in the hut early
Resuming on 281 for three, India lost Laxman early but Tendulkar negotiated the new ball with ease, cruising towards the landmark, much to the delight of the 15,000 people assembled inside the 33,000-capacity arena.
The two sixes he hit during his innings came off upper cuts off fast bowler Fidel Edwards.
He faced 20 balls this morning and added 27 runs with the help of three fours and a six. Tendulkar started in a positive fashion and scored most of his initial runs with flicks.
He flicked Rampaul for a two and a four.With Tendulkar for company, Kohli looked confident and played a glorious straight drive off Rampaul which raced to the boundary even before the bowler could finish his run up.
Then came the over from Edwards that proved extremely fruitful as Tendulkar took 14 runs, which included a classical front-footed off drive. He then cut the pacer over third man for a six, taking his score to 93.
Image: Darren Sammy celebrates after picking up a wicket