Hurricane Dhoni rubs salt into England wounds

Published: Friday, August 10, 2007, 23:53 [IST]
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London: Mahendra Dhoni's blistering 92 powered India past the 500-mark as they strengthened their grip on the third and final Test against England at The Kennington Oval here.

At tea, on the second day, India, were 559 for seven, after Sachin Tendulkar had made 82 in ideal, sunny, batting conditions on a placid pitch.

India's total was the highest in Test history without an individual century, surpassing the 524 for nine declared they made against New Zealand at Kanpur in November 1976.

Anil Kumble, the sixth batsman in the innings to score fifty, was 60 not out and Zaheer Khan seven not out.

India, 1-0 up, had merely to avoid defeat in this match to win only their third series in England in 15 campaigns dating back to 1932.

England, by contrast, had to win to maintain their six-year unbeaten run in home Test series.

No India batsman has made a century in this series so far but Dhoni did not appear to have any concern for personal glory during an 81-ball innings featuring four sixes and nine fours.

The wicket-keeper, 33 not out at lunch, cut loose after his fifty when lofting left-arm spinner Monty Panesar for two straight sixes in three balls.

Panesar, at tea, had bowled 34 wicketless overs for 123 runs.

Ryan Sidebottom didn't bowl after lunch because of what was believed to be a a side strain.

England captain Michael Vaughan brought on Kevin Pietersen, presumably in a bid to tempt Dhoni into rashness.

The part-time off-spinner, who before this match had a Test bowling average of 221 with one wicket - Pakistan's Kamran Akmal at Lord's last year - saw his third delivery driven high over long-on for six.

Next ball wicket-keeper Dhoni swept over the head of Panesar at deep square leg for another six.

But Dhoni, going for a third six in a row, hold out to deep mid-wicket where Alastair Cook, running in from the boundary, took a well-judged low catch.

But any thoughts England had of running through the tail were dispelled by Kumble's 109-ball fifty featuring nine fours.

Tendulkar, who made 91 in India's seven-wicket second Test win in Nottingham, was nearing three figures when he guided a James Anderson delivery to first slip Andrew Strauss.

The 'Little Master', in what could be his last Test in England, faced 192 balls with 11 fours in an innings lasting nearly five hours.

India resumed Friday on 316 for four with Tendulkar, dropped on 20 by wicket-keeper Matt Prior, 48 not out and VVS Laxman 20 not out following an impressive 91 from opener Dinesh Karthik.

Laxman, on 41, was reprieved by Prior, slow to set off before dropping a one-handed diving chance when the ball was heading straight to Strauss with Sidebottom again the unlucky bowler.

But tall pace bowler Chris Tremlett ensured Laxman didn't make the most of his let-off when the batsman, on 51, was drawn forward by a good length ball and Prior, who has conceded 29 byes this innings, held a simple catch.

Brief Scores (at tea,D-2):

India Ist innings 559 for 7 (Dhoni 92, Karthik 91, Tendulkar 82, Kumble 60 n o, Dravid 55, Laxman 51, Ganguly 37, Jaffer 35; Anderson 3 for 156, Collingwood 1 for 11, Pietersen 1 for 15, Sidebottom 1 for 93) Vs England.


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