Laxman’s 14th Test earns India draw


NAPIER, New Zealand (Reuters) – Vangipurappu Laxman scored his 14th Test century after Gautam Gambhir had batted for almost 11 hours to ensure India secured a draw in the second Test against New Zealand yesterday.

India, forced to follow on after being bowled out for 305, declared their second innings closed at 476 for four shortly after Laxman had scored his century.

With New Zealand needing 163 to win in less than 17 overs, both captains agreed to call the match off.

Laxman was unbeaten on 124 and Yuvraj Singh was 54 not out for India, who lead the three-match series 1-0 after a 10-wicket victory in the Hamilton Test.

“After the performance we had in Hamilton, to bounce back and play like we did here is very pleasing,” New Zealand captain Daniel Vettori told reporters.

“The performances of Jesse Ryder (201), Ross Taylor (151) and Brendon McCullum (115) with the bat and backed up by a magnificent first-innings bowling spell.

“I think the amount of pressure we put India under was fantastic.”

Gambhir, who batted for 642 minutes and faced 436 balls, was finally dismissed for 137 after being trapped in front by off-spinner Jeetan Patel before tea.

It was the fourth-lowest Test score for anyone who batted over 10 hours in a single innings.

Only New Zealand’s Jeff Crowe (120 in 609 minutes), Sri Lanka’s Asanka Gurusinha (128 in 607 minutes) and West Indies’ Shivnarine Chanderpaul (136 not out in 675 minutes) scored fewer runs.

“We were very strong,” India’s stand-in captain Virender Sehwag said.

“We knew we had players who could bat a couple of days — Laxman, Dravid, Gautam, Sachin — they can bat for two days. The dressing room atmosphere was fantastic.”

Gambhir had produced a near chanceless innings before he reached 125, whereupon he hit the ball straight to mid-on where pace bowler Iain O’Brien juggled then dropped a sitter.

India’s lead at the time was 13 runs after they were forced to follow on in reply to New Zealand’s 619 for nine declared.

Tendulkar was the only wicket to fall on the benign McLean Park wicket in the first session when he was caught by wicketkeeper Brendon McCullum off Chris Martin for 64 and his dismissal gave New Zealand faint hope they could bowl India out.

“Tendulkar looked the most comfortable, he played his shots and put us under pressure — the others looked to defend and soak up time,” Vettori said.

“When he was dismissed there was a feel-good spirit in the team but the wicket got the better of us in the end.”

NEW ZEALAND first innings (619-9 decl.)

India first innings (305 all out)

INDIA second innings (o/n 252-2)

G. Gambhir lbw b Patel 137
V. Sehwag lbw b Patel 22
R. Dravid c How b Vettori 62
S. Tendulkar c McCullum b Martin 64
V. Laxman not out 124
Y. Singh not out 54

Extras: (b-9, lb-1, nb-3) 13
Total: (for four wickets, 180 overs) 476
Fall of wicket 1-30, 2-163, 3-260, 4-356.

Bowling (to date): Martin 30-8-86-1 (nb-1), O’Brien 32-9-94-0 (nb-1), Franklin 21-5-48-0, Patel 45-10-120-2, Ryder 11-5-38-0, Vettori 38-13-76-1 (nb-1) Taylor 2-1-4-0 How 1-1-0-0.