Ratra stakes claim for final Test with unbeaten century

Published: Friday, August 30, 2002, 2:50 [IST]
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Derby (England): Wicket-keeper Ajay Ratra gave a timely reminder to the tour selectors with an unbeaten hundred as the Indians reached 445 for eight before declaring their innings at lunch on the second day of the three-day game against Derbyshire on Thursday.

Ratra, who was ignored for the third Test at Leeds, made 101 not out as the Indians, resuming at their overnight 301 for five, raised their highest total against Derbyshire. The Indians spent an entertaining two hours at the crease on Thursday morning as the tailenders were given useful opportunity to practice against a flagging attack.

Ratra reached his landmark in fortuitous circumstances. He pushed Neil Gunter to covers and took off but regained his crease just in time as the throw hit the stumps and rebounded towards mid-wicket, giving him the two runs for his century. Ratra batted for 288 minutes and faced 206 balls, hitting 14 fours but played second fiddle to Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh, the two spinners who batted with gay abandon.

Stand-in captain Rahul Dravid, unbeaten on 40 on Wednesday, didn't come out to bat and it allowed Kumble and Harbhajan Singh to polish their batting edges ahead of the final Test. Kumble played some astonishing drives through the covers and in one over of medium- pacer Jason Kerr hit four fours in succession on the offside.

Kerr also dropped him at mid-wicket when he was on 36 in the team total of 354 for six. Harbhajan toyed with the home attack, slamming three sixes and four fours in his unbeaten 44 off 32 balls, even executing some fine reverse sweeps before he was held off a soaring hit at long on.

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