Georgetown (Guyana): Rahul Dravid salvaged India's batting pride with a brave 144 not out on a rain-curtailed fourth day of the opening Test against the West Indies on Sunday.
Dravid's 10th Test century ensured India would not lose the match as the tourists avoided a follow on to reach 395 for seven in reply to the hosts' 501 when play was called off due to rain with 52 overs to go before the draw of stumps. Dravid shared a record 120-run stand with tailender Sharandeep Singh, who made a defiant unbeaten 39 off 119 balls in his third Test. Sharandeep had batted only once in his previous two matches, scoring four. Their partnership was India's highest for the eighth wicket against the West Indies in 71 Tests, the previous best being 107 between Yashpal Sharma and Balwinder Sandhu at Kingston in 1982-83. India faced a follow on prospect when it was reduced to 275 of seven after resuming at 237 for four, but Dravid received valuable support from Sharandeep to make sure the match would end in a draw. Fast bowler Cameron Cuffy bagged two wickets and debutant Adam Sanford one to do the early damage. The tourists went past the follow on mark of 302 in the second hour, with Dravid straight-driving paceman Mervyn Dillon for a boundary. Dravid has scored six of his 10 Test hundreds abroad, this being his first against the West Indies. It was also his first in 14 matches since an unbeaten 180 against Australia at Calcutta in 2001. Dravid, 57 overnight, completed his hundred when he flicked Sanford for a four. He looked unstoppable thereafter, dominating the bowling with attractive strokes. He batted steadily after being struck on the grill of his helmet by a Dillon delivery when on 59. India needed 32 with four wickets in hand when the last specialist batsman, Sanjay Bangar, was trapped leg before by Cuffy. Dillon and Cuffy tried to unsettle the batsmen with short-pitched balls, but Dravid kept his end in tact to steer his team past the follow on mark. Cuffy rattled India with two wickets to boost his team's chances of enforcing the follow on, dismissing Venkatsai Laxman (69) and Bangar in the space of seven runs. Laxman, 46 overnight, completed his 11th half-century with an off-driven four off Dillon before edging Cuffy to first slip Chris Gayle. He shared a 119-run stand for the fifth wicket with Dravid. Anil Kumble contributed three before driving Sanford to gully where Mahendra Nagamootoo dived to his left to bring off a low catch. Dravid had only tailenders to give him company when he began counter-attacking, hitting Sanford for two fours in an over and then driving Cuffy for another boundary to ease the pressure on his team.
Dravid, Sharandeep do India proud