Ahmedabad: Rahul Dravid completed a double-century to put India in a strong position against New Zealand in the opening cricket Test in Ahmedabad on Thursday. The middle-order batsman was unbeaten on 214 for his third double-century as India reached 438-4 at tea on the second day after resuming at 249-3. Skipper Sourav Ganguly was on 75. Dravid put on a record 174 for the fifth wicket with his captain, the previous highest against New Zealand being 127 between Vijay Manjrekar and Gulabrai Ramchand at Delhi in 1955-56. New Zealand toiled for four hours under the blazing sun for just one wicket as Dravid made the most of the tourists' limited bowling attack with his solid 381-ball knock that included one six and 26 fours.
Dravid, who was on 110 overnight, reached his double ton in the afternoon session when he firmly on-drove seamer Scott Styris for four. Ganguly was cautious in the beginning, but grew in confidence as the match progressed to provide valuable support to Dravid. The Indian captain has so far hit one six and eight fours in his 175-ball knock. New Zealand's lone success came in the morning session when left-arm spinner Daniel Vettori had Venkatsai Laxman caught by Paul Wiseman at mid-on. Laxman added eight to his overnight score of 56 when he jumped out to Vettori and lofted the ball straight to the fielder. He had shared a 130-run stand for the fourth wicket with Dravid.
There was no respite for New Zealand after Laxman's early dismissal as Dravid continued to bat confidently against both pace and spin. New Zealand's bowlers lacked penetration on a batsman-friendly pitch with none able to trouble Dravid and Ganguly. The attack looked disciplined only in the first session that yielded 71 runs.
Runs came at a brisk pace in the afternoon. Dravid set the trend when he lofted off- spinner Wiseman over long-on for six. He continued in the same vein and raced to his double-century with a string of boundaries. Ganguly also capitalised on the tiring New Zealand attack, stroking the ball fluently during his unbeaten innings to help his team score 118 runs in the second session.