Tendulkar misses out on 100th hundred in WCup semi

Sachin Tendulkar has set the stage for a glittering finale. Now

all he has to do is finish the job.

Pakistan’s clumsy fielding almost allowed the world’s greatest

batsman to post his 100th international century in the semifinal on

Wednesday. Instead, Tendulkar will target the milestone in

Saturday’s final against Sri Lanka in his hometown Mumbai.

The 37-year-old Indian opener, a sporting icon in his home

country, can’t have had many luckier innings than his 85 against

Pakistan, which played a major role in the World Cup co-host’s

29-run win over its bitter rival.

He was dropped four times, had an lbw decision overturned and

survived a close stumping decision before he was finally caught by

Pakistan skipper Shahid Afridi at extra cover off the bowling of

Saeed Ajmal.

Tendulkar was adjudged lbw to Ajmal on 23, but the Decision

Review System showed the ball would have gone on to narrowly miss

leg stump. He was almost out off the next delivery but just had his

toe on the ground when Kamran Akmal removed the bails in a decision

which also went to the TV umpire.

Misbah-ul-Haq, Younis Khan, Kamran Akmal and Umar Akmal all put

down chances when Tendulkar was on 27, 45, 70 and 81.

The packed, partisan crowd of 28,000 at the Punjab Cricket

Association Stadium briefly fell silent when Tendulkar drove

straight to Afridi before rising to applaud another crucial

innings.

Tendulkar, who has scored two previous centuries in the

tournament, also passed 400 runs at a World Cup for the third time,

joining Australians Ricky Ponting and Adam Gilchrist in achieving

the feat.

It was the latest in a long list of accomplishments for

Tendulkar, who has the most runs and centuries in both test and

one-day cricket. Up against him on Saturday will be leading test

and one-day wicket taker Muttiah Muralitharan, playing in his final

match for Sri Lanka.

The ”Little Master” reached the World Cup semifinal with India

in 1996 and the final in 2003, but the trophy has remained out of

reach. Saturday’s setting could be no more perfect for his 100th

hundred.

Given that India didn’t win either match in which Tendulkar

passed 100, his legions of fans might regretfully hope he falls

short again.