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25 Nov 2011

India legend Sachin Tendulkar fell six runs short of his 100th international hundred as he was out for 94 in the third and final Test against West Indies in his home city of Mumbai.

Having cruised from 67 to 94 on the fourth morning, he sliced Ravi Rampaul to skipper Darren Sammy at second slip.

Tendulkar, who has 51 Test centuries and 48 in one-day internationals, has been stuck on 99 hundreds since March.

But this is the closest he has come to the landmark of a century of centuries.

The crowd, who were packed into the Wankhede Stadium in anticipation of Tendulkar's achievement, were left stunned as their idol came so close to the feat that has been expected of him since the World Cup earlier this year.

Anticipation has grown after he made his 99th hundred against South Africa at the World Cup, and interest centred on him throughout India's troubled summer tour of England. - where the nearest he came to three figures was scoring 91 on the last day of the Test series at The Oval.

Tendulkar began day four in confident fashion, hitting paceman Rampaul for two fours off successive overs despite overnight partner VVS Laxman falling to the first ball he faced.

The "Little Master" then took 14 off an over from Fidel Edwards, including a cover-driven four and a six over the slips, to move into the 90s.

But on the last ball of the 87th over, Rampaul struck to leave India's fans playing the waiting game again as their remaining batsmen battled to save the follow-on.

The local media were left as stunned as the supporters - with NDTV describing it as "the biggest heartbreak ever".

With bat overpowering ball for most of the match, it looks most likely to finish as a draw - and Tendulkar's best chance of batting again in this game may be if India are dismissed for less than 391 and fail to avoid the follow-on.

He remains the leading all-time Test run-scorer by a distance, having passed the 15,000 mark in the first Test of the series, and is more than 2,000 ahead of his nearest challenger - his long-term team-mate Rahul Dravid, who became only the second man to score 13,000 Test runs on his way to making 82 on Thursday.


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