Indian top order came up with solid batting peerformance as three of them hit centuries and finished with 365 for two at stumps against the Zimbabwe Board XI on the second day of the warm-up tie in Mutare on Friday.
Indians were ahead by 71 runs in reply to opposition's 294 for nine declared and would be looking to force a result tomorrow at Mutare sports club ground.
Openers Virender Sehwag (122) and Gautam Ghambir (126) put on 196 for the first wicket which was padded further by a sedate unbeaten 102 from Rahul Dravid, who had VVS Laxman (9) for company at close.
Sehwag was contemptuous in his strokeplay and mostly didn't bother to run as the quick outfield quickly took the ball past the ropes. He mostly relied in beating the field with placements and the rest took care of itself.
He smote scorching shots like a propelled six which took the ball to the adjoining ground.
Sehwag didn't seem aware of his landmark when he laid back and cut left-arm spinner Keith Dabengwa past point boundary. Only when he saw his team-mates get raucous in the dressing room did he raise his bat in acknowledgment.
Sehwag then smashed a six and a four off leg-spinner Graeme Cremer before another dash down the track connected little as the ball took the middle stump out of the sockets.
He stayed at the crease for 144 minutes and faced 118 balls, hitting 22 fours and two sixes.
Gambhir on the other hand was extremely watchful and looke like he had a century in mind. He finally raised it in the final session with a cut for two to third man.
Ghambir played 275 minutes during which he faced 169 and hit 16 fours, besides a six.
Rahul Dravid applied himself for some extra hours at the crease as the most reliable Indian batter had a bad series so far. He was missed in the slip cordon on 49 but thereafter reached his century as a matter of certainty. He took 144 balls from 179 minutes of batting and hit 16 fours.
Earlier Zimbabwe board added another 29 runs from nine odd overs before deciding there was no point in continuing after overnight centurion Dion Ebrahim was dismissed for 169.
Ebrahim batted for 378 minutes and faced 281 balls, hitting 29 fours and a six.
Ebrahim, who eyed a double century, edged a cut to VVS Laxman at second slip who scooped up the ball for first slip Rahul Dravid. It was Anil Kumble's second wicket of the morning and gave him impressive figures of 5 for 48 from 30-odd overs.
Still it must have rankled the Indians to see their medium-pacers looking toothless in another short spell this morning. Zaheer bowled five more overs and took little and the same happened to Balaji. With first Test round the corner, Indians have some issues to sort out.
Zimbabwe Board XI
Brendon Taylor c Dravid b Balaji 5
Terrene Duffin lbw b Zaheer 25
Vusimuzi Sibanda c Karthick b Zaheer 0
Dion Ebrahim c Dravid b Kumble 169
Hamilton Masakadza lbw b Kumble 8
Chamunorwa Chibhabha lwb b Kumble 0
Charles Coventry c Kaarthick b Kumble 2
Sean Williams lbw b Sehwag 10
Keith Debengwa b Kumble 60
Waddington Mayeyanga not out 0
Extras (b7, lb3, w1, nb4) 15
Total (for nine wkts decl, 99.9 overs) 294
Bowling: Zaheer Khan 25-5-122-2; Laxmipathy Balaji 23-6-75-1, Irfan Pathan 5-3-5-0; Sourav Ganguly 7-3-22-0; Anil Kumble 30.2-14-48-5; Yuvraj Singh 2-1-1-0; Virender Sehwag 7-3-11-1
Virender Sehwag b Cremer 123
Gautam Ghambir lbw b Ireland 126.
Rahul Dravid not out 102
V V S Laxman not out 9
Extras (b2, nb3) 5
Total (for two wkts, 78 overs) 365
Bowling: Keith Mwayenga 19-2-89-0; Allan Mwayenga 9-0-51-0, Anthony Ireland 19-3-75-1; Keith Dabengwa 18-2-75-0, Graeme Cremer 18-2-73-1.