Laxman and Tendulkar steady India

Published: Sunday, October 19, 2003, 20:45 [IST]
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Mohali: Sachin Tendulkar and Venkatsai Laxman hit unbeaten half-centuries to boost India's chances of avoiding a follow-on in the second and final cricket Test against New Zealand in Mohali.

Laxman was batting on 65 and Tendulkar on 55 as India reached 330-3 at tea on the fourth day Sunday in reply to New Zealand's imposing first-innings total of 630-6 declared. The hosts still require 101 more runs to make New Zealand bat again in the match heading for a draw. India were in trouble early in the morning when they lost two wickets in the space of 10 runs after resuming at 203-1, but Tendulkar and Laxman steadied the innings with a 112-run stand for the unbroken fourth wicket. Tendulkar also became the fifth-highest scorer in Test cricket during his unbeaten knock, surpassing Pakistani batsman Javed Miandad's record of 8,832 runs. He has so far scored 8,881 in 107 Tests.

The Indian is now behind only Australians Allan Border (11,174 runs in 156 Tests) and Steve Waugh (10,660/164), compatriot Sunil Gavaskar (10,122/125) and Englishman Graham Gooch (8,900/118). Tendulkar, however, was upstaged by Laxman during the partnership as he failed to dominate the New Zealand attack even on an easy-paced track. He has so far hit just six fours in his 174-ball knock. Laxman outscored his senior partner, executing handsome shots in front of the wicket against both fast bowlers and spinners.

He has struck nine fours in his 152-ball innings. India batted slowly after the fall of two early wickets, scoring 64 in the morning session and 63 in the afternoon. Left-arm spinner Daniel Vettori played a big role in keeping the Indian batsmen silent as he conceded only 57 runs in 40 overs. Seamers Scott Styris and Ian Butler had rocked India when they dismissed overnight batsmen Rahul Dravid and Virender Sehwag in the space of just four overs. Butler struck in the second over when he had stand-in captain Dravid caught by wicket-keeper Robbie Hart.

The batsman added four to his overnight score of nine. Sehwag also fell soon, inside-edging a Styris delivery on to his stumps after adding just two to his overnight score of 128. He hit two sixes and 16 fours in his 225- ball knock. New Zealand took the new ball immediately after 80 overs at 244-3 in a bid put pressure on new batsmen, but Laxman and Tendulkar batted cautiously to keep the rival attack at bay.

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