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India ride on Gambhir's ton; lead by 531
Posted on: 05-04-2009 , 04:: | DY365 Bureau

to a position of immunity from where only two results look eminent- an Indian victory or a comprehensive, crushing, overwhelming Indian victory.

By the time Gambhir fell LBW b O'Brien after a marathon 167 run-knock, not only had the Indian second innings total gone past 300, but the overall lead exceeded 500.

India were 349/5 at stumps on the third day when the bad light forced an early end to the day’s proceedings. Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni (16 runs) was at the crease, while giving him company was Yuvraj Singh (15 runs). India lead by 531 runs with 5 wickets in hand and two days of cricket left.

For Gambhir, having received accolades for his match-saving 137 at Napier, the 257 ball essay at Wellington was the perfect icing on the cake. He further enhanced his reputation as a match-winner even as his stocks in the international cricket see a constant upward growth.

Gambhir hit 16 fours and two sixes during his stay at the crease for his fifth Test ton before succumbing to a lapse in concentration, an hour into the final session.

Gambhir’s departure was succeeded by the fall of VVS Laxman. The wristy Hyderabadi oozed pure class enroute his 61 run knock, milking New Zealand’s bowling for 9 silken touches to the boundary rope. He survived 109 balls. Laxman was clean bowled to a lovely in-cutter by Brien.

Earlier in the day, resuming from the overnight score of 51/1, and an overall lead of 233 runs, Gambhir, first began a clinical decimation of New Zealand’s aspiration of forcing a fightback, and having achieved that, he launched an assault of such magnitude that left the hosts gaping for courage.

By tea, India were 269/3. The Delhi southpaw had 151 runs to his credit, while Laxman was giving him company.

In the morning, Gambhir was ably supported in his endeavour by Rahul Dravid, who crafted out fine a 60 for himself.

At 170/1, the duo comfortably anchored India till lunch. While Gambhir was 4 runs short of his ton, second on the tour, Dravid was closing in on his half century.

In the post lunch session, both the batsmen reached their accomplishments.

Having struck 10 fours in his 145 ball essay, Dravid fell to some exceptional brilliance by Brendon McCullum and Daniel Vettori.

Having sensed that Dravid was trying to employ a paddle sweep to Vettori, McCullam shuffled to outside leg-stump swiftly enough to timely intercept Dravid’s shot. This was Dravid’s 56th half-century.

Following Dravid’s dismissal, Sachin Tendulkar marched on to the centre for what, in all likelihoods, could be his last Test sojourn on Kiwi soil.

However, for once, the Mumbai Maestro failed to make his innings count. Deceived by Vettori’s flight, Tendulkar nicked a sharp edge towards first slip, which was lapped by Ross Taylor.

The play would be starting half an hour early on Monday to compensate for Sunday’s loss. India seem on course for their first ever Test series victory in
New     zealand in 42 years.

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