Harbhajan makes ton as draw looms

 Harbhajan Singh made his maiden Test century

Harbhajan Singh made his maiden Test century

Harbhajan Singh realised every bowler’s dream of making a Test hundred and VVS Laxman burnished his already lustrous second-innings record to steer India to safety on the final day of the first Test. Chris Martin and New Zealand couldn’t replicate the venom with which they bowled either side of tea on Sunday and their chances of victory vanished with the 163-run association between Harbhajan and Laxman.

The injuries to Hamish Bennett and Jesse Ryder didn’t help New Zealand either. A serious push for victory against the world’s No. 1 side is difficult to sustain when Ross Taylor and Brendon McCullum, with 12 overs of international experience between them, were given the ball.

In his previous two Tests, Laxman had turned in contrasting match-winning efforts on the final day. In Ahmedabad, he showed his match-saving skills. It was hard to guess from his unperturbed demeanour and batting that India were battling for survival, and he repeatedly worked the spinners towards sweeper cover and deep point to make his runs. His first violent shot was a sweep that nearly carried to the midwicket boundary to bring up his half-century.

Unlike the cool-and-collected Laxman, Harbhajan was less secure. He nearly committed hara-kiri in the third over of the day with an ill-judged call for a single after punching the ball to mid-off. Daniel Vettori’s throw missed the stumps with Harbhajan yards out. Harbhajan also offered half-chances to slip and forward short leg but despite the shakiness, he never put away his natural attacking strokes. He outscored Laxman with maverick batting: sweeping Vettori powerfully in the air against the turn, a ferocious down-the-line forehand off Martin, and – riskiest of all – a reverse-paddle off Jeetan Patel.

By lunch, India’s lead had ballooned to 192, and much of the interest in the second session centred on whether the two batsmen could make their hundreds. Both carried on as they had in the morning: Laxman made unflustered progress with Harbhajan pulling off some enterprising strokes. New Zealand seemed reigned to a draw, with Vettori at one stage imitating Harbhajan’s bird-like flourish during his run-up.

With the match meandering and Laxman into his 90s, two umpiring mistakes brought the UDRS back into focus. Steve Davis missed a huge inside-edge from Laxman to give him lbw to the batsman’s horror, a reaction which was repeated by Zaheer next ball when Davis missed another nick to leave Vettori on a hat-trick. Davis concentration had clearly slipped, calling ‘over’ when only five deliveries had been bowled.

There was still the matter of Harbhajan’s hundred. He had reached his half-century with a Laxman-like flick and he brought up three figures with a Sehwag-like six, carving the ball over extra cover to move from 95 to 101. Cue a generous round of applause from the dressing-room, and Harbhajan celebrated with a message to his close friend Sachin Tendulkar – imitating the master’s signature crouch.

No team has ever won chasing in Ahmedabad, Harbhajan and Laxman have ensured the record will not be broken in this Test.

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About eshaan00
Fan of sports. Like to play football, cricket, badminton etc. I can,t talk nicely like others. But a good listener. Like to have true friend.

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