All eyes on Laxman as Kiwis make India toil
Published: Monday, October 20, 2003, 0:27 [IST]
Laxman and Tendulkar steady India
Scorecard of Test 2 Day 4
Mohali: Venkatsai Laxman slammed a solid, unbeaten 86 to sustain India's hopes of avoiding a follow-on in the second and final cricket Test against New Zealand in Mohali. The middle-order batsman's 17th Test half-century helped India reach 390-6 at stumps on the fourth day Sunday in reply to New Zealand's massive first-innings total of 630-6 declared. The hosts now need 41 runs more to make New Zealand bat again in the match heading for a draw. India struggled throughout the day dominated by the New Zealand bowlers, especially left-arm spinner Daniel Vettori who grabbed two wickets for 77 runs off 53 economical overs. The hosts scored just 187 in 90 overs, much to the disappointment of a near-capacity crowd. India were under pressure early in the day when they slipped from their overnight total of 203-1 to 218-3, but Laxman came to his team's rescue with a 112-run stand for the fourth wicket with Sachin Tendulkar (55). Tendulkar became the fifth-highest scorer in Test cricket during his 36th half- century, 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 hardly allowed to play his strokes by Vettori who kept all the Indian batsmen silent with his clever variations on a slow, turning track where the odd ball kept a bit low. He hit just six fours off 175 balls before being caught bat-pad by Mark Richardson at forward short-leg off Vettori's first delivery after the tea break. Laxman upstaged Tendulkar as he executed attractive strokes in front of the wicket, but could not take liberties against Vettori. He has so far struck 10 fours in his 226-ball innings. Debutant Yuvraj Singh tried to ease the pressure as he pulled Vettori for a six, but did not last long. He was caught by wicketkeeper Robbie Hart off fast bowler Daryl Tuffey after making 20. Seamers Scott Styris and Ian Butler had earlier 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 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. Skipper Stephen Fleming took the new ball immediately after 80 overs at 244-3 in a bid to put pressure on new batsmen, but Laxman and Tendulkar denied New Zealand success in the afternoon session. The tourists again put India on the defensive in the closing session, dismissing Tendulkar, Yuvraj and Parthiv Patel before being thwarted by Laxman.