Gambhir, Laxman hit double centuries in the Kotla Test

October 30th, 2008 - 8:52 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Oct 30 (IANS) Double hundreds by V.V.S. Laxman and Gautam Gambhir put India in a position to dictate the course of the third cricket Test against Australia at Feroz Shah Kotla Thursday.At stumps on the second day, Australia were 50 for no loss after India declared their first innings at 613 for seven. The visitors playing out the 16 overs on offer. Matthew Hayden (16) and Simon Katich (29) were at the crease. There were encouraging signs for Indian spinners though with Amit Mishra getting one turn sharply to rap Katich on the pads and a Kumble delivery kicking up a puff of dust.

Over four hundred of India’s mammoth score came from Gambhir (206), his maiden double century, and Laxman (200 not out), his second in Tests. This was the first occasion when two Indians scored double centuries in a Test innings and also the first by two batsmen from any country to score against Australia.

For Laxman, his 278-run partnership with Gambhir is another record, being his fourth stand over 2000 runs. The stand was also the best for any wicket at Kotla, eclipsing the 267 by West Indians Clyde Walcott and Gerry Gomez in the first Test played here in 1948.

Statistics apart, Gambhir and Laxman batted Australia out of the match, defying them for over five hours.

India’s declaration came an hour after tea when Laxman came down the track to hit Michael Clarke over his head to get to his double century that took 470 minutes and 301 balls with 21 boundaries.

It was another special from Laxman, who has been a thorn in the Aussies’ flesh throughout his career. Laxman is a treat to watch when in full flow and at Kotla Thursday, the stylish Hyderbadi proved that his supple wrists are still better for a couple of years of cricket.

Laxman’s liking for the Aussie attack can be gauged by the fact that his top four Test scores have come against the World Champions.

His first double century, a gem which came in that historic Eden Gardens Test in 2001-02, will remian a timeless classic for the sheer magnitude of pressure and the enormity of ocassion. Nevertheless, this classy knock will stand out as it has come when there is unfair criticism about his ability despite scoring practically in every major Test victory in recent years.

In contrast, Gambhir, who has been on a high in all forms of the game, came of age. Here he was not satisfied with back-to-back centuries and soon after lunch he raced to his double century. He would savour it more as it came in front of his home crowd.

Gambhir pushed Watson for a single to reach the milestone but the celebration were subdued, quite like his personality, as if he saw it coming and also making it known that there is much more in store for him.

Punching the air with a half-raised bat, Gambhir acknowledged the standing ovation from his colleagues in the dressing room. His 200 came off 375 balls in 536 mins.

Gambhir and Laxman carried from where they left off Wednesday with the stingless Australian attack failing to get their act together on the flat Kotla track. They scored briskly in the morning session adding 97 runs.

Nothing seemed to be working for the Aussies and in sheer desperation, skipper Ricky Ponting himself turned his arm over in the bid for a breakthrough after lunch.

Watson, who was involved in an ugly spat with Gambhir Wednesday, finally ended Gambhir’s 550 minute vigil that included 26 boundaries and one six. Gambhir’s inside edge disturbed the stumps.

Mohali century-maker Sourav Ganguly (5) began on an exciting note, hitting Simon Katich for a four, but soon hit the left-arm spinner straight at short-cover to Ponting.

The stage was set for Mahendra Singh Dhoni to go on the attack. And the vice-captain did just that, scoring 27 off 29 balls with four fours, and a straight six off Katich.

After the fall of Kumble, Zaheer Khan hit five fours in his 21-ball 28 and the moment Laxman got to his double century the declaration came.

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