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Top order batsmen give India advantage


Hamilton : India’s top order dug their heels on the second day to consolidate their grip on the first cricket Test against New Zealand at Seddon Park here Thursday.

Gautam Gambhir (72), Rahul Dravid (66) and Sachin Tendulkar (70 not out) all struck form to carry India to just one run short of New Zealand’s first innings total of 279, with six wickets in hand, before bad light stopped play.

Giving Tendulkar company was Yuvraj Singh (8) after V.V.S Laxman fell for 30.

The New Zealand attack lacked sting and troubled the batsmen only occasionally. The Indians were cautious to grind out the sporadic quality spells, with nothing going right for the hosts who dropped catches to worsen things at their end.

India scored at a slow place, 256 runs in 83.5 overs for the day, but made sure they ended with an advantage that should help them pile on an imposing first innings total Friday.

The start of play was delayed by 15 minutes owing to heavy rain in the early hours. The Black Caps soon got a breakthrough with the dismissal of Virender Sehwag (run out), who added just two runs to his overnight 22.

A direct hit by James Franklin at the non-striker’s end found Sehwag short of his crease while responding to Gambhir’s call for a second run.

Gambhir and Dravid then put on 105 for the second wicket.

Gambhir batted with determination to reach his tenth half century, his first against the Black Caps. Dravid took his time to settle down before stroking some sweetly timed boundaries.

New Zealand struck back with Chris Martin (2-53) dismissing Gambhir, inducing an edge to Brendon McCullum. Gambhir’s 72 came in 135 balls with the help of 11 fours.

Dravid followed him shortly when his stumps were rattled by Iain O’Brien. Dravid, who has been going through a bad patch, took 138 balls for his 66 that included 12 fours.

New Zealand would have been in a better position had Daniel Flynn held on to a tough chance at midwicket after Tendulkar miscued a pull off Daniel Vettori. He was on 13.

The Kiwi attack bowled a disciplined line to Tendulkar and Laxman. The duo added 61 runs in 28 overs after tea before Martin snared Laxman with the new ball at first slip, straight to the hands of Ross Taylor.

Tendulkar played solidly, facing 135 balls for his 70 that had 11 fours.