Sunday, March 29, 2009

Gambhir, Tendulkar keep India afloat at Napier

India's top-order led by Gautam Gambhir resolutely grinded their way to take India close to safety on the fourth day of their second cricket Test against New Zealand here Sunday.Gambhir (102 batting) scored a dogged century while Rahul Dravid (62) and Sachin Tendulkar (58 batting) raised half-centuries to guide India to 252 for two in their second innings -- still 62 short of New Zealand's mammoth first innings total of 619 after the visitors were all out for 305 and asked to follow-on.If it were New Zealand who dominated the first three days, the fourth day of the Test undisputedly belonged to India.Unless there is a batting collapse, India should not be in a spot of bother Monday as the track is still good for batting.With New Zealand looking well-poised to square the series, the Indians Sunday batted with resilience in their endeavour to deny the hosts an opportunity to draw level.Dravid was the only wicket to fall Sunday -- a victim of a bad decision by umpire Ian Gould. The replays showed that the Daniel Vettori (1-48) delivery had brushed the pad before landing in the hands of Jamie How at short leg. A usually calm Dravid was livid after the decision.Gambhir and Dravid shared a four-hour, 133-run partnership, grafting 72 runs in the first session and 61 in the second session after India resumed at overnight 47 for one.If Gambhir was the chief contributor to the score before lunch, Dravid took over in the second session.Dravid, top scorer in India's first innings with 83, got his 50 off 180 balls with a push through the off side. His 220-ball knock had six fours and a six off Jeetan Patel (1-73).After Dravid's dismissal, Tendulkar batted with fluency and displayed majestic strokes off his backfoot.Gambhir spent almost an hour stuck on 83 after tea watching Tendulkar take on the New Zealand bowlers single-handedly.Iain O'Brien and Chris Martin were at the receiving end of a vintage Tendulkar, who stroked eight fours and one six in 113 balls.New Zealand took the second new ball after the tea break but Tendulkar was quick to shift gears. Twenty-two runs came in four overs as Tendulkar hit three boundaries in a Martin over. He then sent O'Brien soaring for a six to long-on when the fast bowler tried to bounce the master batsman.Gambhir finally brought up his fifth century, his first outside the sub-continent, with a lofted four over wide mid-on. He took 265 balls to achieve the mark with 14 fours.The Delhi batsman curbed his natural attacking style and was a picture of concentration throughout the day.
Tendulkar scored his 52nd Test half century and is well set to score his 43rd Test century.

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