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India take control with solid batting display

By The Assam Tribune

NAGPUR, Nov 21 (PTI): India�s famed top oder batsmen capitalised on Virender Sehwag�s flourishing start as the hosts took firm control of the the third and final cricket Test against New Zealand with a solid batting display here today. After dismissing the Kiwis for 193 in the first innings, the Indians reached a comfortable 292 for two at close on the second day, taking a 99-run first innings lead at the VCA stadium.

Virender Sehwag (74) provided a flying start alongwith Gautam Gambhir (78) while Rahul Dravid (69 batting) and Sachin Tendulkar (57 batting) consolidated the position for the hosts with an unbroken 100-run partnership for the third wicket.

Monday can turn out to be an eventful day as Tendulkar, was a picture of concentration. He looks determined not throw it away as he requires another 43 runs to complete the historic milestone of 50 centuries in Test cricket.

He completed his half century after punching part-time spinner Martin Guptill to the sweeper cover region for three runs. The kind of applause he received after completing his 59th half century, one can imagine what will happen if he reached the coveted landmark.

The maestro, who was only perturbed by a few short balls from Tim Southee, hit some delightful strokes on both sides of the wicket. Those included a cover drive and steer off Southee, an arrow like straight drive and a cut off McKay and a drive through the mid-wicket boundary off Martin.

With Dravid (69 batting, 167 balls, 8x4) also looking good for his 31st Test century, the hosts would ideally like to pile up a huge score in order to avoid batting last on this track. The Tendulkar-Dravid duo had added exactly 100 runs for the unbroken third wicket stand.

However, if India are in the box seat, credit should go to the start provided by opening duo Sehwag-Gambhir�� inarguably India�s best opening pair in Test matches since Sunil Gavaskar and Chetan Chauhan in late 70�s and early 80�s.

The two Delhi players have only themselves to blame for missing out on well-deserved centuries as loose shots led to their dismissals.

While Sehwag scored 74 off only 73 deliveries with the help of 12 fours and a six, Gambhir who has just been made the ODI captain for two matches played an useful innings of 78 with the help of 12 boundaries.

It was again Sehwag who provided the momentum as he send the New Zealand bowlers on a leather hunt blasting his way to 26th half century in Test cricket.

Gambhir, who is slowly regaining his touch, was the perfect foil to his partner taking singles and giving Sehwag more of the strike.

When Sehwag plays his natural game, the margin of error is very less for the opposition bowlers. Time and again the Black Caps bowlers have suffered in the hands of Sehwag and it wasn�t any different during the first session. He started off punching Southee through the vacant cover region for a boundary.


New Zealand 1st innings: (Overnight 148-7) Tim McIntosh b Sreesanth 4 Martin Guptill c Dhoni b Sreesanth 6, Ross Taylor lbw b Sharma 20, Jesse Ryder c Raina b Harbhajan Singh 59, Kane Williamson c Sehwag b Ojha 0, Daniel Vettori b Sharma 3, Gareth Hopkins c Raina b Ojha 7, Brendon McCullum c Dhoni b Sharma 40, Tim Southee c Sehwag b Ojha 38, Andy McKay b Sharma 5, Chris Martin not out 2. Extras: (1b, 5lb, 3nb) 9. Total: (all out in 66.3 overs) 193. Fall of wickets: 1-11, 2-16, 3-42, 4-43,

5-51, 6-82, 7-124, 8-159, 9-165, 10-193. Bowling: S Sreesanth 12-4-28-2, Ishant Sharma 18-4-43-4, Pragyan Ojha 19.3-2-57-3, Harbhajan Singh 17-2-59-1.

India 1st innings: Gautam Gambhir c Taylor b Southee 78, Virender Sehwag c and b Vettori 74, Rahul Dravid batting 69, Sachin Tendulkar batting 57. Extras: (b-8, lb-3, nb-1, wd-2) 14. Total (for two wkts in 82 overs) 292. Fall of wickets: 1-113, 2-192. Bowling: Chris Martin 13-0-58-0, Tim Southee 13-3-41-1, Andy McKay 18-5-47-0, Daniel Vettori 30-3-101- 1, Kane Williamson 3-0-18-0, Martin Guptill 5-0-16-0.

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