Napier (New Zealand): Batting superstar Sachin Tendulkar and opener Virender Sehwag warmed up for the opening Test against New Zealand with impressive half-centuries in a drawn tour match on Sunday.
Tendulkar slammed an unbeaten 52 and Sehwag a brisk 61 as India batted better in its second innings to post 191 for three at stumps on the third and final day after conceding a lead of 86 to Central Districts at the McLean Park. Opener Sanjay Bangar (70) was the other batsman among runs ahead of the first Test, starting at Wellington on December 12. The only disappointing news for India was reliable middle-order batsman Rahul Dravid's twin failures in the only practice game before the Test. Dravid missed out on a big score as he contributed just one before being bowled by fast bowler Andrew Schwass, who finished with two for 28 on a day when 53.4 overs were possible due to rain. Dravid had failed to score in the first innings. "Though Dravid has missed out on a big score, he is a quality player. Technically, he is perhaps the best equipped to score runs in New Zealand," Indian coach John Wright said. "But there were positives from the game. Sehwag, Tendulkar and Bangar all scored runs. Bangar is a very committed cricketer who is also capable of playing attacking innings." Wright said he was not worried over India's batting collapse against fast bowling in the first innings. "I won't be too concerned about the first innings. The batting failed to click only in one innings. They are all quality batsmen capable of doing well here," said Wright, who is also a former New Zealand captain. Sehwag's return to form augured well for India, who had been looking for runs from their openers ahead of the Test after crashing to 209 in the first innings on a lively track on Friday. The hard-hitting opener, who made 12 in the first innings, made amends for his failure with a blistering 61 off just 55 balls with 11 fours. Sehwag held centre- stage in the first session against fast bowlers as he timed his shots remarkably well. He reached his 50 in 51 balls, on-driving paceman Brent Hefford for the first of his three boundaries in an over. Sehwag eventually fell playing strokes as he edged Schwass to wicket-keeper Martyn Sigley, but not before adding 91 for the opening wicket with Bangar to ensure a draw. Bangar gave valuable support to both Sehwag and Tendulkar. Tendulkar played his shots with freedom from the other end, dominating the four-man pace attack during his 87-run stand for the third wicket with Bangar.
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