Tendulkar cracks 85 as India score 260 for nine

Mohali: Sachin Tendulkar capitalised on six reprieves to crack 85 while Suresh Raina provided the late sparks as India posted a competitive 260 for nine in their high-voltage World Cup semifinal clash against arch rivals Pakistan here on Wednesday.

Tendulkar, however, could not make the most of the Pakistani fielding lapses as he missed his 100th international ton as the hosts lost wickets at regular intervals on a PCA track which offered some assistance to the bowlers.

Virender Sehwag (38) and Raina (36 not out) were the other notable scorers as many of the Indian batsmen got the starts but could not translate them into big knocks in a highly surcharged match watched by Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Pakistani counterpart Yousuf Raza Gilani and a host of other dignitaries.

For Pakistan, pacer Wahab Riaz was the pick of the bowlers with a career-best 5/46, eclipsing his previous best of 3/22 against Bangladesh in Dhaka in 2008.

The Indians were at a shaky 205 for six in the 42nd over but some lusty shots by Raina in the power play took India beyond the 250 mark, which is more or less the average first innings total at this ground.

Pakistan now need to score at an asking rate of just over five runs an over to make it to the final of the mega event to be played in Mumbai on April 2.

Electing to bat, the Indian innings began with a flourish as Sehwag unleashed a flurry of strokes against the Pakistan pacers, picking up Umar Gul for special treatment by clobbering him for five boundaries in his second over.

The Delhi dasher slammed the third ball of the innings to the cover boundary to complete 1000 runs against Pakistan in his 29th match, thus becoming the fifth Indian batsman to achieve the milestone.

Sehwag was at his destructive best in Gul`s second over as he spanked him for as many as five boundaries much to the delight of a capacity crowd who lustily cheered every stroke.

Sehwag`s belligerence was shortlived as Wahab Riaz, who was introduced in place of Abdul Razzaq, struck in his very first over by trapping him leg before. His breezy 38 came off just 25 balls and contained nine boundaries.

Sehwag attempted to flick the ball to an incoming ball and was rapped on the pads. The Indians asked for a review of umpire Simon Taufel`s decision and television replays showed that the ball would have indeed hit the middle stump.

After Sehwag`s dismissal, Tendulkar took upon himself the responsibility of scoring the runs quickly and an exquisite glance of Gul to the fine leg region stood out.

Tendulkar then produced another stunning shot off Riaz as he crouched on one knee and played the square drive to the point boundary, in the process completing 400 runs in the World Cup for the third time.