Gambhir, Laxman put India in box seat

Published: Thursday, October 30, 2008, 16:30 [IST]
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New Delhi: A massive 278-run fourth wicket stand between Gautam Gambhir and VVS Laxman put India in a commanding position against Australia as the home team was 515 for six at tea on the second day of the third Test here today.

At tea, Laxman, who took centre stage in the morning session as he completed his century, was batting on 160 with some aggressive yet sensible stroke play, while giving him company was captain Anil Kumble who was on 16.

However, it was the record 278-run fourth wicket partenership between Gambhir (206) and Laxman that laid the foundation for India to post a mamoth score with Laxman also nearing his double ton.

Gambhir, who went into the lunch break needing just nine runs for his 200, completed his maiden double century when he pushed a single to the leg side off Shane Watson.

The local boy did have his share of luck when Matthew Hayden failed to grab his catch at first slip just before lunch.

The left-hander was eventually dismissed by the same bowler for 206 (off 380 balls) when he played a ball, which was well outside the off-stump, on to his stumps.

His nine-hour stay at the wicket had 25 fours and a towering six which came off Watson yesterday when the batsman was on 99.

Laxman cut Cameron White for a boundary to raise his 13 Test century and the sixth against Australia.

His century came off 171 balls which had 10 well-timed hits to the fence but had to wait for 11 balls to get to his hundred. He then went on to reach the 150-run mark in 241 balls with 16 fours.

After Gambhir's dismissal, Sourav Ganguly, who is playing his last Test here, failed to make it a memorable one and was out cheaply for five runs when he scooped a Simon Katich delivery to the short cover fielder where Ponting did not make any mistake.

India's ODI captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni (27) looked to sabotage the Australian bowling in his brief stay as cut lose almost everything that came his way. He almost gave umpire Aleem Dar a scare of his life when he smashed Katich straight but the bowler just got a hand to it and deflected the ball away from the umpire standing at the non-striker's end. Dar shook hands with Katich thanking him for almost saving his life.

However, in Katich's next over Dhoni did not give any half chances and smacked the bowler for 16 runs with two consecutive fours and a six at long-off. But in the very next over the batsman fell prey to Watson edging him straight into the hands of Brad Haddin.

Dhoni took just 29 balls as he raced to 27 with the help of four powerful hits to the fence and a six.

Shane Watson, who was involved in a verbal spat with Gambhir yesterday, gave his team the first success of the day dismissing Gambhir and then scalped Ganguly as India lost three wickets in the post lunch session scoring 122 runs in 27 overs. Watson returned figures of two for 66 off 22 overs.

Meanwhile, Laxman, saw some quick wickets falling at the other end, completed his 150 in 241 balls.

Earlier resuming from the overnight score of 296 for three, Gambhir and Laxman made the Australian bowling line up look almost pedestrian and the duo raised India's 350 in the 14th over the day after the departure of Virender Sehwag (1), Rahul Dravid (11) and Sachin Tendulkar (68) all of whom were dismissed yesterday.

The new ball which was just four overs old failed to give any purchse to the bowlers on a placid Kotla wicket where Laxman, in particular, demonstrated some exceptional stroke play and the duo raised their 200-run partenership at a brisk pace in 322 balls.


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