Mon, Mar 30, 2009 - Page 19 News List

Gambhir grinds his way to fifth century

AGENCIES , NAPIER, NEW ZEALAND

Indian batsman Gautam Gambhir evades the ball during the fourth day of the second Test match between New Zealand and India at the McLean Park in Napier, New Zealand, yesterday.

PHOTO: AFP

Gautam Gambhir ground his way to his fifth Test century as India edged closer to saving the second test against New Zealand by the close of play on the fourth day yesterday.

The tourists, who won the first match of the three-Test series in Hamilton by 10 wickets, reached 252 for two at stumps, 62 runs behind New Zealand’s 619 for nine declared after being dismissed for 305 in their first innings and forced to follow on.

Gambhir was on 102, while Sachin Tendulkar was on 58 — his 52nd test half century — and with a day still to play he was well placed to convert that into his 43rd test century on the benign McLean Park wicket today.

Gambhir, who was on 14 when play began yesterday, was watchful all day with few false strokes and only one nervous moment when a James Franklin outswinger squared him up while he was on 84.

Initial reactions from the New Zealand fielders were that wicketkeeper Brendon McCullum had dropped a sharp chance, though television replays showed Gambhir had been comprehensively beaten and the ball had brushed his back leg.

The 27-year-old, who had spent almost an hour stuck on 83 after tea finally brought up his milestone with an aggressive lofted shot over wide mid-on for his 14th boundary. He had taken 265 balls to achieve the mark.

With conditions heavily in favor of the batsmen, it was a long day in the field for New Zealand as they picked up only one wicket, Rahul Dravid.

New Zealand knew it would probably take a mistake by the batsmen or umpire to break the Dravid-Gambhir partnership and in the end it was umpire Ian Gould who sent a livid Dravid off, ruling a bat-pad catch by Jamie How at short leg off Daniel Vettori.

Dravid, who top-scored for India with 83 in the first innings, shook his head and hit the ground with his bat as he left, while TV replays showed the ball made no contact with the bat.

India lost Virender Sehwag for 22 late on Saturday when the stand-in captain attempted an outlandish slog sweep to a straight delivery from off-spinner Jeetan Patel and was trapped in front.

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