Nagpur, Nov. 22: India sealed all possible escape routes as New Zealand continued to be at the receiving end in this third and final Test here on Monday. Rahul Dravid’s marathon 191 (573m, 396b, 21×4) helped India post a mammoth 566//8 declared. Mahendra Singh Dhoni was unlucky to miss his fifth Test hundred by two runs. Harbhajan Singh then claimed the wicket of Tim McIntosh before close to leave the Kiwis at 24/1 at stumps, still in arrears by 349 runs.
It was another steady batting effort by India on a wicket that is slowing down all the time. The much expected 50th Test hundred of Sachin Tendulkar was denied yet again when debutant Andy McKay got one to bounce higher than Tendulkar anticipated in the second over of the day.
V.V.S. Laxman stroked one through mid-wicket and another through covers before Chris Martin disturbed the leg stump with pace, swing and slant. The first hour was slow progress with only 23 added. Suresh Raina came in and made batting look difficult. Ducking and weaving without poise, the left hander succumbed to the guile of Daniel Vettori. The fall of three quick wickets further pushed Dravid into a shell.
Dhoni did not inspire confidence at the start of his innings. After missing out on a short ball from McKay he struck three successive boundaries to help make up for the slow first hour. Dhoni’s technique against the seamers was not easy on the eye but effective none the less. Dravid picked up the pieces well and the innings gathered momentum. The extended first session saw India stretch the lead by a further 94. Only one result looks a possibility from here.
Dravid was struck on 87 for while and was fortunate to see a thick outside edge off Vettori go past Ross Taylor at first slip. A brace brought up Dravid’s 31st Test hundred. Dhoni continued to take his chances and finding the ropes at regular intervals helped spread the field and focus shifted to singles.
Read full story from publisher