Monday, March 30, 2009


Gautam Gambhir batted nearly 11 hours for 137 and VVS Laxman made a stylish 124 not out as India reached 476 for four on Monday to draw the second Test against New Zealand, consolidating a 1-0 series lead.Gambhir's innings secured the draw for India, sharing partnerships of 133 for the second wicket with Rahul Dravid (62), 97 with Sachin Tendulkar (64) and 96 with Laxman.He was out in the 160th over of the innings, at 356 for four, having made the match safe for the Indian line-up which was forced to follow on 314 runs behind New Zealand on the first innings.Laxman's 14th Test century and his unbroken 120-run partnership for the fifth wicket with Yuvraj Singh (54 not out) allowed India to build a 162-run lead before their declaration ended the match an hour before scheduled stumps.Virender Sehwag, captaining India in place of Mahendra Singh Dhoni who missed the match with a back injury, praised Gambhir's stoic contribution."I think he's developing his game really well," Sehwag said. "He's playing some good cricket and he's contributing well in all forms of the game. I think he did fantastically well."India were out for 305 in their first innings, replying to New Zealand's 619-9 declared, allowing New Zealand to enforce the follow on with more than two days of the match remaining.

Gambhir's marathon stay at the crease allowed India to erase the deficit shortly after tea on Monday while Laxman and Yuvraj guided India to complete safety, a declaration and a draw.Laxman reached his 14th Test century, to go with his 76 in the first innings, in 238 minutes from 187 balls with 20 fours. Yuvraj then found form with a half-century from 52 balls, punctuated by nine fours.India had started the day at 252-2, still trailing New Zealand by 62 runs.New Zealand fast bowler Chris Martin captured the vital wicket of Sachin Tendulkar, who resumed at 58, for 64 in only the fifth over of the day but Gambhir, then Laxman batted India steadily, even painstakingly toward safety.
Gambhir was finally out, trapped lbw by off spinner Jeetan Patel, late in the second session and, though India only led by 42 runs at that point, the match had effectively been saved.India led by 83 runs at tea, when Laxman was 77 not out, and was steered towards their declaration by Laxman's century and the substantial partnership of the final session.

"It was a bit tough," New Zealand captain Daniel Vettori said. "We didn't expect to spend three whole days in the field. We were in with a chance to win it but, as it turned out, we couldn't finish it off in the last day and a half."Still, everything I asked of the team before the match came to fruition so I'm happy with most aspects of the match."India take their 1-0 lead into the third and final Test starting in Wellington on Friday. Their 10-wicket win in the first Test at Hamilton was the first in New Zealand since 1976, leaving them on course for a first series win on New Zealand soil since 1968."Whatever conditions we come up against in Wellington, this performance has given us confidence and we'll take a lot of heart from it," Vettori said.

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