Sourav Ganguly reached a personal landmark of 5,000 Test runs to leave India on 396-6 at lunch on the third day of the first Test at Queen's Sports Club yesterday.
However, the India captain needed 146 balls and over 210 minutes at the crease to grind out his 51, which he will be keen to take past a hundred given some mediocre performances in recent months.
India had a lead of 117 with four wickets standing, having bowled Zimbabwe out for 279.
This was certainly not what the Indians were looking for at the start of play. They lost three wickets during the morning session and added only 71 runs in the two hours.
VVS Laxman swept to his eighth Test century for India against Zimbabwe on Wednesday to put his country fully in command with 325-3 at the close of play.
Replying to Zimbabwe's all out first innings total of 279, Laxman and Ganguly survived two overs of the new ball for a lead of 46 runs with seven wickets in hand going into the third day.
After a patchy performance on the field on Tuesday, Laxman scored freely all around the wicket.
He struck 17 fours and used 186 balls in a top class and faultless innings, to achieve his eight Test century, five of which been made outside India.
When Laxman reached 39 he passed a personal landmark of 4,000 runs in Test cricket. He also figured in a 130 runs partnership for the third wicket with Rahul Dravid, who scored 77, which was his 124th half century.
"I got off to a slow start because I felt I needed to build concentration," Laxman said.
"After that it was a matter of treating carefully an attack that was not really up to the mark. Whatever the circumstances I was delighted to get another century and I want to add a lot of runs to that when we resume," he said.
Dravid's 77 runs gave a sound foundation to the Indian innings, adding weight to useful contributions early on by Virender Sehwag (44) and Gautam Gambhia with 46. Ganguly played a more subdued role with 23.
The only successful Zimbabwe bowler was Blessing Mahwire, the taker of all three Indian wickets to fall. He ended with 3-67.
Zimbabwe started the day on 265 for seven down. They had hopes of exceeding 300 at least but came up against Irfan Pathan, who took all three remaining wickets, and were able to add only a further 14 runs.
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