Harbhajan’s maiden Test ton and Laxman save Ahmedabad Test

November 8th, 2010 - 5:17 pm ICT by IANS  

Harbhajan Singh Ahmedabad, Nov 8 (IANS) Spinner Harbhajan Singh smashed his maiden Test century and his 163-run seventh-wicket stand with V.V.S. Laxman (91) made sure that India saved their first cricket Test against New Zealand at Motera stadium here Monday.

India were folded in for 266 in their second innings shortly after tea and led by 294 runs as the Test appeared headed to a draw.

Harbhajan (115, 193b, 11×4, 3×6) along with Laxman (91, 253b, 9×4) steadied the Indian innings after the hosts were at one point left tottering at 82 for six on fourth day after Chris Martin’s five-wicket haul. Interestingly, no team has ever won in Ahmedabad, chasing the rivals’ total.

Harbhajan, who played an attacking innings, brought up his hundred in style with a six over extra cover and celebrated it by mimicking Sachin Tendulkar’s characteristic crouch as the entire dressing room stood up to laud his effort.

However, Laxman, who looked poised for his Test hundred, was unlucky when umpire Steve Davis wrongly held him out, lbw off Daniel Vettori (2-81) despite getting an inside edge. Laxman stared in disbelief before walking off shaking his head.

Davis came up with another doubtful decision after he gave Zaheer Khan an lbw off the next ball, the Indian seamer quite sure that it had a late inside edge. Vettori was on a hattrick but Pragyan Ohja survived and he with Harbajan went for the tea break with India at 255 for eight.

Harbhajan fell soon after tea when he top-edged a Ross Taylor (2-4) full toss straight to Bradley John Walting at the short fine leg. Taylor soon made it two wickets for him when wicket-keeper Gareth Hopkins held on to an outside edge by S.Sreesanth, and Indian innings came to an end.

Earlier, Laxman and Harbhajan arrested further rot in the morning and passed the first session without losing any wicket.

Martin, who took 5-25 to swing the match in New Zealand’s favour Sunday, couldn’t reproduce his magic. Injuries to debutant seamer Hamish Bennett and Jesse Ryder didn’t help the visitors either with Ross Taylor and Brendon McCullum filling in their places.

India were once again looking up to “saviour” Laxman who in the past has batted his way to win and save matches for the hosts and he didn’t disappoint.

He held one end, batting with poise and patiently building his innings. In contrast, Harbhajan repeatedly flirted with danger and was lucky to survive a run out chance in the third over of the day when a throw by Vettori missed the stumps.

It took Laxman 154 deliveries to bring up his 50 with four boundaries. Harbhajan’s 50 came off 78 balls with five fours and a six, his second fifty of the Test.

The Black Caps have not won a Test in India since John Wright led them to a 136-run victory in Mumbai 22 years ago.

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