India draw second Test, series with New Zealand

Laxman's unbeaten 67 helped India to draw the second Test and the series against New Zealand.

india Updated: Oct 20, 2003 17:46 IST

India put their enviable home reputation in jeopardy before relying on V V S Laxman's class and determination to save the blushes as the two-match Test series against New Zealand ended in a draw here on Monday.

After failing to avoid the follow-on by just seven runs, the hosts were in real danger of suffering their first series defeat at home for a fairly long time after being 18 for three at one stage.

But Laxman (67 not out) and newcomer Aakash Chopra (52) saved the day with a resolute 110-run fourth wicket partnership.

The Indians were a pale shadow of themselves as they struggled right through the final day to save the embarrassment of a defeat and also to keep their reputation intact in what was billed as the 'revenge series'.

The Indians scored 136 for four in their second innings before play was called off with six mandatory overs still remaining.

The visitors raised hopes of recording their first-ever series win on Indian soil after dramatically bundling out India for 424, seven runs short of the follow-on target and then tightening the grip on the match by making early inroads into the formidable Indian batting line up.

Although the Test series ended in a draw, New Zealand definitely emerged the moral victors having outplayed the hosts in almost all the departments of the game in their own den.

The Kiwi bowlers, however, got some assistance from the fifth day track.

Laxman, who remained unbeaten with a patient 104 in the first innings, stood bravely amidst the ruins as he took upon himself the task of saving the match on a day which saw as many as eight wickets fall mainly due to some fiery bowling by Daryl Tuffey.

The home team's battle for survival began on a disastrous note as they lost first innings centurion Virender Sehwag for just one run with Stephen Fleming latching on to a smart catch at first slip off Tuffey who generated a fair amount of pace in his first spell.

Tuffey struck another vital blow when he removed stand-in captain Rahul Dravid (5) with Fleming taking a brilliant low catch in first slip and suddenly the Indian innings looked in total diasarray.

Joining forces after the cheap disimissal of Sachin Tendulkar, the duo of Chopra and Laxman made a valiant effort to steady the innings as they tried to pull the hosts out of the mess with some watchful batting.

Laxman, who looked to be in very good nick, was the more aggressive of the two batsmen as he produced some delightful strokes while newcomer Chopra was quite content in playing the sheet anchor's role.

The stylish Hyderabad batsman opened up a little more after the tea interval and picked Vettori for some special treatment. Laxman notched up his 17th Test half century by taking a single off Tuffey when he returned for the second spell from the far end.

Chopra produced a glorious square drive to the boundary off Wiseman to register his second successive half century but departed in the very next ball bringing an end to the face-saving 110-run partnership.

Chopra went for a forward defensive shot but could not keep the ball to the ground and Mark Richardson held on to the catch at forward short leg. His 160-ball knock was studded with eight boundaries and came in 228 minutes.

Needing 41 runs to avoid the follow-on when play began this morning, the Indians lost the remaining four wickets in dramatic fashion to fold up at 424 shortly after the drinks break to raise Kiwis' hopes of registering their first series win on Indian soil.

Resuming at the overnight score of 390 for six in reply to New Zealand's mammoth first innings total of 630 for six declared, the Indian tailenders failed to rise to the occasion as the lanky paceman Daryl Tuffey tested the Indian late order batsmen with a fiery spell.

First to depart was Anil Kumble (5) who was run out following a brilliant piece of fielding by Tuffey. He stopped the ball with a diving effort and regaining balance quickly Tuffey hit the stumps with an under-arm flick that caught Kumble well short.

Harbhajan Singh (8) was next to go backing up too far at the non-strikers end. The off-spinner also got the third umpire's verdict after Ian Butler managed to deflect the ball on to the stumps off a firm straight drive by Laxman.

The two quick wickets saw India slump to 408 for eight and the threat of follow-on loomed large at that stage.

Lakshmipathy Balaji, playing only his second Test, was under enormous pressure coming into bat with India in the pits. Hovever, the fast bowler had his share of good fortune when he was dropped twice by wicketkeeper Robbie Hart.

The stylish Laxman had to shoulder the responsibility of steering India out of the follow-on threat and tried to shield Balaji as much as possible by refusing to take the runs in the first few balls of every over.

Laxman completed his fifth Test century when he took a couple of runs off Tuffey and looked quite comfortable in the middle despite wickets falling at regular intervals.

Laxman and Balaji took the score to within seven runs of the follow-on target before Balaji's luck ran out, falling prey to Tuffey off a gem of a delivery which swung out from a good length spot.
Balaji only managed to snick the ball and wicketkeeper Hart made no mistake this time.

Last man Zaheer Khan was dismissed off the very first ball he faced from Tuffey to leave the sparse crowd at the Punjab Cricket Association stadium in a daze.

Laxman remained unbeaten on a 262-ball 104, an effort which contained 11 boundaries and compiled in 422 minutes.

This is the fourth occasion that New Zealand have enforced a follow-on against India and only the second time on Indian soil.

Scorecard

First Published: Oct 20, 2003 10:26 IST