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Indian hopes of avoiding follow-on rest on Laxman

V V S Laxman led a grim fightback with a patient unbeaten 86 as India struggled to avoid follow-on.

india Updated: Oct 20, 2003 09:39 IST

V V S Laxman led a grim fightback with a patient unbeaten 86 as a desperate India was struggling to wriggle out of the follow-on threat on the penultimate day of the series-deciding second cricket Test against New Zealand here on Sunday.

Laxman played with a great deal of responsibility to steer India closer to the follow-on mark, which is still 41 runs away, with four wickets in hand and one day's play remaining.

Laxman was batting on 86 while Anil Kumble was giving him company on one at draw of stumps on the penultimate day which saw very little fireworks from the Indian batsmen, much to the disappointment of a packed holiday crowd.

The entire day fetched just 187 runs for the hosts and with no more recognised batsmen to come in, they were still not out of danger on a track which has shown signs of providing some assistance to the bowlers.

Resuming at the overnight score of 203 for one in reply to New Zealand's mammoth first innings score of 630 for six declared, the home team was given a scare with the dismissal of two quick wickets but a laboured 112-run fourth wicket partnership between Tendulkar and Laxman steadied the ship to a great extent.

Both Tendulkar and Laxman played much too slowly as they painstakingly went about rebuilding the innings and collecting the runs which were few to come by against some quality bowling, particularly by left-arm spinner Daniel Vettori.

Tendulkar appeared much too subdued ever since he joined the action after stand-in captain Rahul Dravid's dismissal for 13 while Laxman also seemed to tie himself in knots, particurlarly in the post lunch session which fetched India just 63 runs.

The batting maestro perished in the first over after tea with left arm spinner Daniel Vettori plotting his downfall for a 175-ball 55.

Tendulkar offered a bat and pad catch to close-in fielder Mark Richardson as he went for a forward defensive shot, bringing an end to his 238-minute stay at the crease which contained five hits to the boundary.

Tendulkar's effort took him past former Pakistan captain Javed Miandad's Test aggregate of 8832 runs and the star batsman is now the fifth leading scorer in Test cricket.

Local hero Yuvraj Singh, who came to the middle after Tendulkar's departure, was also in no mood to attack and was quite content in pushing and prodding as the Kiwis deployed an attacking field with as many as five close-in fielders at times.

But the Test debutant could not stay put for long falling prey to Daryl Tuffey who returned for a new spell from the pavilion end in place of Vettori.

Yuvraj's dismissal was the 50th Test victim for Tuffey who induced the batsman to edge an outgoing delivery into the hands of wicketkeeper Robbie Hart.

The Indians had lost the prized wickets of stand-in captain Dravid (13) and centurion Virender Sehwag (130) in quick succession early in the day and were in real trouble slumping to 218 for three at one stage.

The reliable Dravid, who scored 222 and 73 in the first Test in Ahmedabad, edged an outgoing delivery from Butler and Hart made no mistake in bringing the batsman's 96-minute vigil to an end.

Sehwag never really looked comfortable this morning and Scott Styris ultimately sent him back to the pavilion to give his team the much-needed early breakthrough.

The Delhi player had himself to blame for his dismissal as he attempted a rather ambitious stroke but only managed to inside-edge the ball onto his stumps.

Sehwag clobbered 16 boundaries and two sixes during his 225-ball 130 which came in 316 minutes. It was his fourth Test century.

India: Rahul Dravid (captain), Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, Aakash Chopra, VVS Laxman, Parthiv Patel, Anil Kumble, Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan, L Balaji and Yuvraj Singh.

New Zealand: Stephen Fleming (capt), Mark Richardson, Lou Vincent, Nathan Astle, Craig McMillan, Scott Styris, Robbie Hart, Daniel Vettori, Paul Wiseman, Daryl Tuffey, Ian Butler.

Umpires: David Shepherd (Eng) and Rudi Koertzen (SA).

Third umpire: K Hariharan (Ind).

Live Scorecard

First Published: Oct 19, 2003 09:59 IST