Vineet Sharma/ Zeecric Bureau
Ahmedabad: The first Test match between India and New Zealand ended in a drab draw after it became evident that the last session could not yield any result.
The high pint of the day was ‘Turbunator’ Harbhajan Singh. He did the unthinkable and slammed his maiden Test century, saving India from a defeat in the process. His fiery ton came to completion in typical flamboyant style that one associates with Bhajji - a towering six.
His wicket fell after completion of 115 runs as part time spinner Ross Taylor tossed it up, sending a full toss, Harbhajan was cramped for room as he looked to pull it, got a top edge before lobbing up straight to Watling at short fine leg. He stood there asking whether it was above waist height, the umpires decided to refer it to the third umpire and replays showed that it as well below the waist.
However, it was heartbreak for VVS Laxman as the batsman was adjudged out LBW to a debatable delivery by Kiwi skipper Daniel Vettori for a score of ninety one runs. This was immediately followed by the loss of Zaheer Khan for a duck as another wrong decision was taken in the heat of the moment.
Umpire Steve Davis was the culprit of raising the dreaded finger incorrectly to clear inside edges to the pads, and his dual strike in one over changed India’s innings considerably.
India were 255/8 at tea, sitting pretty with a 283-run lead against New Zealand with the last session of play left. The post tea session saw the fall of the last two wickets as the hosts were wrapped-up for 266 runs, a lead of 294 over the New Zealanders.
Laxman’s battle to save the Test for India came to an end after facing a marathon 253 balls and his wicket exposed the fragile tail, albeit the sense of security as it was hard to lose the Test with a lead of over 250 runs.
The post lunch session had started with more frustration for the visitors as the duo of Harbhajan Singh and VVS Laxman milked the deliveries to build on the 200+ lead on the final day of the first Test.
Laxman and Harbhajan not only slammed half-centuries to pull India out of danger, their bonhomie with the Kiwis on the field only made it a better sight as the game of Test cricket brought out the true flavours of the sport.
Resuming at 82/6, India did not lose any wicket and reached 164/6 at lunch.
Overnight batsmen Laxman and Harbhajan safely negotiated the first hour of the morning session of an all-important Day 5 with contrasting style. While Laxman played the role of an anchor, the off-spinner was more aggressive and played some exciting shots all-around the wickets.
Chris Martin had triggered a major turnaround in the final session of Day 4 and that made the game all the more exciting. With the specialist batsmen gone cheaply, the last stand that could save the Test for the hosts was the one between Test veteran Laxman and unorthodox Harbhajan, and the two stood up to the task.