Tue, Nov 23, 2010 - Page 20 News List

Dravid, Dhoni give India huge lead over Black Caps

REUTERS, NAGPUR, INDIA

India’s captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni plays a shot on the third day of the third and final Test match against New Zealand at the Jamtha Stadium in Nagpur, India, yesterday.

PHOTO: AFP

Rahul Dravid and Mahendra Singh Dhoni batted with supreme authority yesterday to steer India into a huge lead as New Zealand were left with an uphill task of batting out two days to save the deciding Test.

That task became harder after Harbhajan Singh dismissed opener Tim McIntosh to leave the tourists reeling at 24 for one, still needing 349 runs to make India bat again.

India declared their first innings at 566 for eight with a lead of 373 after New Zealand’s bowlers had picked up three early wickets on day three of the third and final Test.

Dravid stood tall with his 31st Test hundred, while captain Dhoni fell two short of his fifth hundred in Tests as they stitched together a 193-run partnership for the sixth wicket.

The right-handed Dravid (191) got to the coveted century mark with a flicked two, just before lunch at the Vidarbha Cricket Association Stadium.

The 37-year old missed his double hundred when he holed out to Martin Guptill at long-off trying to hit part-time offspinner Kane Williamson out of the ground.

Dhoni (98), who had been short of runs heading into the match, joined Dravid at the crease after the hosts had lost Sachin Tendulkar, Vangipurappu Laxman and Suresh Raina cheaply.

The pin-up boy of Indian cricket then stepped on the pedal with some lusty hits to demoralize the New Zealand bowlers. He hit 12 boundaries and a six in his knock, before offering a tame return catch to Daniel Vettori.

The tourists had a couple of half chances in the day, but the fielders failed to cling on, making it more difficult for the under-assault bowlers.

Tendulkar (61) could add just four runs to his overnight score before he edged debutant Andy McKay to wicketkeeper Gareth Hopkins to become the left-arm seamer’s first Test wicket.

Laxman followed soon after as Chris Martin bowled a big inswinger to breach his defense, while New Zealand captain Vettori dismissed Raina through a bat-pad catch at silly mid-on. The three-Test series is tied at 0-0 after two draws.

PAKISTAN V S AFRICA

AFP, ABU DHABI

Skipper Misbah-ul-Haq and Azhar Ali led Pakistan’s fightback with half-centuries apiece to keep South African hopes of enforcing follow-on at bay on the third day of the second Test yesterday.

Misbah finished with 77 not out to guide his team to 317-6 at the close after Ali (90) and Asad Shafiq (61) also contributed in a fight for survival with Pakistan still needing another 68 to avoid following on.

Abdul Rehman was the other unbeaten batsman without scoring.

Pakistan trail South Africa’s first innings score of 584-9 declared by 267 runs on an Abu Dhabi Stadium pitch which is still not offering any real help to the bowlers.

South Africa pushed hard to enforce the follow-on and to press their chances of winning the two-match series after the first Test in Dubai ended in a draw last week.

Misbah, who reached his sixth Test half-century with consecutive boundaries off Dale Steyn, has so far hit nine boundaries and a six during his 150-ball knock and will have to continue on day four to avoid the follow-on.

Steyn had removed Younis Khan (14) and Ali in the space of five balls to raise hopes of enforcing the -follow-on as Pakistan slumped to 156-4 from 153-2 soon after lunch.

But Misbah and Shafiq defied all such attempts, batting confidently to thwart the South African pace--cum-spin attack. Both hit off-spinner Johan Botha for three boundaries each in successive overs to take Pakistan to 220-4 at tea.

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