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Laxman scores another ton at his beloved Eden

By Sirshendu Panth, IANS,

Kolkata: V.V.S. Laxman’s love affair with Eden Gardens continued as the stylish Hyderabadi struck his fifth hundred at the venue with India in sight off a mammoth first innings total when early lunch was called due to poor light conditions on day two of the second Test against West Indies at the Eden Gardens here Tuesday.

Resuming at 346/5 overnight, India had reached 433/6 in their first innings when the umpires decided to go for lunch 19 minutes before scheduled time after the lightmeter showed insufficient light.

Skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni (22), lucky to escape getting caught behind twice due to no balls, was giving company to Laxman (106 batting) on another day of near-empty stands at a ground known in the past for its large and boisterous crowds.

A tentative Yuvraj Singh (25; 25b, 5×4) was the only batsman to get out in the pre-lunch session, when 87 runs were scored.

Laxman, beginning the day on 73, looked in sublime touch as he executed several artistic shots and reached his 17th hundred in 129 Test matches with a boundary past mid-on off West Indies skipper Darren Sammy. The landmark came in 219 minutes off 157 balls with nine boundaries – 75 minutes into the first session.

Laxman now has equalled fellow Hyderabadi and former India captain Mohammad Azharuddin, who also has five hundreds at the venue.

But before Laxman’s feat, the hosts lost their only wicket of the morning in the 10th over.

Yuvraj, who had begun the day with a boundary off pacer Kemar Roach’s first ball of the day, looked in some discomfort against the short ball as he repeatedly edged and even took a Fidel Edwards delivery on his body.

The left hander’s unimpressive stay ended when he played across the line to Sammy and was out le before. Laxman and Yuvraj’s partnership yielded 50 runs, the fifth half century or more stand of the innings.

Dhoni, who came in next, showed urgency, opening with a boundary off Sammy. He was lucky to be still there in the middle as twice the Indian captain was “caught” behind the wicket off no balls. He was on 13 and 16 then, and Roach was the bowler on both occasions.