Nagpur: A sparkling century by opener Shiv Sunder Das saw India tighten its grip on the first Test against Zimbabwe as it finished the second day on Friday comfortably placed at 209 for two.Zimbabwe and Nagpur once again proved lucky for the diminutive Das who completed his second Test century and was associated in two fine partnerships with Deep Dasgupta and Rahul Dravid. Das' earlier century had come against the same opposition at this very ground. After batting fluently for nearly five hours, Das who added 130 runs for the second wicket with Dravid, got out in the last over of the day for 105, which was studded with 19 boundaries.
Dravid remained unbeaten on a sedate 57 while Sachin Tendulkar, who came out to bat for only four balls, was yet to open his account when stumps were drawn for the day. Earlier, Zimbabwe stretched its first innings to 287, thanks to a solid 59-run stand for the ninth wicket between Travis Friend and Ray Price who later picked both the wickets to fall in the Indian innings. The duo resumed at Zimbabwe's overnight score of 248 for eight and batted close to an hour on Friday morning before Price was run out for 18.
Leg spinner Anil Kumble then trapped last man Brighton Watambwa (0) leg before wicket to bring Zimbabwe innings to close. Friend remained not out on a well-made 60. Das started on a fluent note, his first seven scoring shots being boundaries. However, he was lucky to have survived two chances early in his innings. After hitting Heath Streak for a four in the very first over, Das snicked an outgoing delivery in the bowler's next over which flew between the first slip and wicket-keeper on its way to the third man fence.
One over later, Das was unable to get away from a sharply rising delivery from the same bowler but the ball fell just short of the fielder at gully. However, Das shrugged off the scares to play some beautiful cuts and drives, with Streak also taking his brunt. Dasgupta, who had taken a long time for his first run, also gained in confidence and flourished in the company of Das. The two took the score to 41 without loss at lunch. Both batsmen used their feet effectively against left-arm spinner Ray Price who was introduced early in the Indian innings. Dasgupta even lofted the bowler for a straight six.
However, Price extracted his due when he clean bowled Dasgupta with a ball that spun in sharply. Dasgupta, who scored 33, had offered his pads and was stunned to see the delivery crash into the stumps. The first wicket association yielded 79 runs. The run rate fell after the dismissal of Dasgupta and the second session produced 74 runs in 30 overs. Das continued with his attractive stroke play with Dravid, coming back to international cricket after nursing a shoulder injury, and the two were hardly troubled by the bowlers even though Friend and Price bowled a disciplined line.