Tendulkar’s ton puts India in commanding position

Hamilton: Sachin Tendulkar gave ample display of his class with a masterly 160 as India tightened the noose around New Zealand by taking a huge 241-run lead and snapping up three early Kiwi wickets in the first cricket Test here today.

Tendulkar not only notched up his 42nd Test century but also anchored the innings brilliantly to steer India to a commanding first innings total of 520.

Skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni (47) and Zaheer Khan (51 not out) chipped in with useful contributions as the visitors took advantage of a good batting track of Seddon Park to put the host team on the back-foot.

The Kiwis were struggling at 75 for three at close on the third day, still trailing by 166 runs.

With two full days left, the Black Caps will have to bat out of their skin to prevent India from taking a 1-0 lead in the three-match series.

Indians took the wicket of night watchman Kyle Mills in the very last ball to cap a day, completely dominated by them with Tendulkar standing out with his heroic knock.

It was Tendulkar’s third hundred in four Tests since the 109 against Australia at Nagpur last November, pulling further ahead of Ricky Ponting’s 37 hundreds (129 Tests).

New Zealand got off to a poor start in the second essay, losing Tim McIntosh (0) in the third ball of the innings, before Martin Guptill, who played some delightful strokes through the off-side during his enterprising 48. Tendulkar injured the index finger of his left hand while taking a low slip catch, offered by McIntosh off Khan.

Guptill and Daniel Flynn (batting 24) put the brakes on India, posting 68 runs for the second wicket.