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Rediff News  All News  » Cricket » Motera Test: Harbhajan, Laxman ensure draw for India

Motera Test: Harbhajan, Laxman ensure draw for India

Last updated on: November 08, 2010 16:22 IST


The opening Test between India and New Zealand at the Sardar Patel Stadium in Motera ended as a draw on the fifth and final day on Monday.

The visitors, chasing 295 to win, had made 22 for one when play was called off. It is the seventh draw in the last eight Tests between the two countries on Indian soil - India's last win at home coming in 1999 at Kanpur.

Earlier, Harbhajan Singh (115) and VVS Laxman (91) helped India save the match.

The duo put on a record 163 runs for the seventh wicket before Daniel Vettori struck, giving the visitors their first breakthrough of what had otherwise been a lacklustre day from the bowling point of view. 

It was a spectacular recovery, considering India was 15 for five at one stage in their second essay. The home team didn't lose a wicket in the morning session and only two in the post-lunch session.

However, with no declaration coming it was palpable that India was playing for a draw rather than forcing a result. The draw meant, New Zealand was left seeking that elusive Test win on Indian soil. The Kiwis' last won in India way back in 1988 - in Mumbai in what was only their second ever win on Indian soil (after Nagpur in 1969).

Harbhajan SinghHarbhajan was named the man-of-the-match for his batting efforts in both the innings. He aggregated 184 for the match.

While the home side managed to save the match, the visitors gave a good account of themselves.

Considered outsiders (read no-hoppers) coming into the Test, New Zealand dominated three of the five days played and ended up with a positive result.

The lack of an extra bowler - Bennett was out injured in the second innings - definitely hurt the visitors. As also the fact that most of the outside edges didn't carry added to their woes.

Mark Greatbatch, the Kiwi coach, had ahead of the series, said two draws would be a good result for his side. And New Zealand is halfway through to his expectations.

India may be ranked the no.1 Test team in the world. But it is yet to behave like one.

When it was in a position to force a result, it preferred to save the game than go for the kill.

The apprehension of a loss, akin to the days of the yore, still exists. And that is certainly not the hallmark of a champion side.

Morning session: (82 runs, 30 overs, no wickets)

The home team expectedly had a sedate start in the morning, the first four overs yielding just five runs.

Harbhajan survived a run out attempt in the day's third over - when Vettori missed the stumps - and then hit the first boundary of the day (off Martin).

He also hit the second boundary of the day a few overs later, this time off Vettori, soon after McCullum had failed to grab at silly point what can best be described as a half chance.

Harbhajan was living dangerously and fortune was on his side for sure.

A risky reverse-paddle not only found its way to the fence but also helped bring about the 50-run partnership for the seventh wicket.

Meanwhile, a boundary off Patel helped Laxman register his 47th Test fifty, his fifth against New Zealand.

The innings had not only helped India come out of the woods but also ensured Laxman maintained his impressive fourth innings record.

Harbhajan reached his ninth Test fifty, his second of the match, soon after with a couple off Martin. It was his third Test fifty against New Zealand. He has four against Australia.

The duo was handling the Kiwi bowling with ease, and it clearly suggested that India precarious position earlier in the innings had more to do with their own batsmen than the New Zealand bowlers.

After 70 overs (at lunch), the home team had made 164 for six, for an overall lead of 192.

Post-lunch session: (27 overs, 91 runs, 2 wickets)

The first run in the second session, a single by Harbhajan off Vettori, helped raised the 100-run partnership for the seventh wicket.

Two overs later, Harbhajan smashed Vettori to the mid-off boundaries to help the Indian lead cross the 200-run mark.

And another boundary (again off Vettori) over extra cover this time helped him reach his highest score in Test cricket, surpassing the feat achieved in the first innings at Motera (when he scored 69).

The new ball was taken in the 81st over. However, it didn't help New Zealand much.

Both the batsmen continued piling on the runs, thereby adding to the visitor's cup of woes, their seventh-wicket partnership yielding the home team 163 runs - a record for the wicket against New Zealand

When on 93, Harbhajan was put down by Martin off his own bowling. To be fair to the bowler it was a difficult chance. But it reiterated the fact that Harbhajan had been extremely fortunate in the course of his innings.

However, just as Laxman was closing in on what would have been his 17th Test ton, umpire Steve Davis adjudged Laxman leg before.

His resolute 253-ball 91 was inclusive of nine hits to the fence.

Zaheer Khan (0) survived only a ball, before Davis raised his finger again. Daniel Vettori had struck twice in successive balls to give New Zealand some much-needed breakthrough.

Harbhajan though managed to reach his maiden Test ton, reaching the landmark with a huge six wide of long-off off Vettori. It was the 100th hundred for India in the second innings.

He celebrated the same with yet another maximum, this time off Patel, the hit also helping India reach the 250-run mark.

After 97 overs (at tea), the home team had made 255 for eight, for an overall lead of 283.

Post-tea session:

India: (11 runs, 5.4 overs, 2 wickets)

Harbhajan was dismissed soon after tea.

He scored a 193-ball 115, a knock that was inclusive of 11 bounadries and three maximums, before Ross Taylor had him caught by Walting short fine leg to pick up his first Test wicket.

Taylor's second came two overs later, when he had S Sreesanth (4) caught behind.

And after 102.4 overs, the home team eventually folded up for 266, having been 15 for five at one stage.

That helped set New Zealand a target of 294 in a maximum of 24 overs. To say it was an impossible task would have been an understatement.

New Zealand: (22 runs, 10 overs, 1 wicket)

Zaheer Khan struck in the first over in New Zealand's second innings

The left-arm seamer trapped Tim McIntosh (0) leg before.

It was a second successive batting failure for the New Zealand opener, with him bagging an unwanted pair. And on both the occasions, he fell to Zaheer.

However, Brendon McCullum (11 not out) and Bradley-John Walting (2 not out) ensured there was no further damage before the match ended to its eventual result an hour before the schedule close of play.

The final over was bowled by the Indian captain, MS Dhoni.

After 10 overs the visitors, chasing 295 to win, had made 22 for one.

Tags: Laxman, India