Harbhajan Singh once again rescued India from a precarious position and has given them a chance to win the Test. When Sreesanth came to join him India were barely ahead of New Zealand's total of 350 and that was truly disappointing for a team that has over 50000 runs between all its members in Test cricket.
Harbhajan started as if he was carrying on from his century in Ahmedabad and there was a bit of a cavalier air about his approach, as if saying to his more renowned batting teammates that they had not done their job. In cricket however, it is always better to do it yourself and show the rest rather than throwing it away in which case you haven't done any better yourself. He seemed to have quickly realized that and after that his innings was a terrific mixture of caution and aggression.
Harbhajan is the new Gary Sobers: Dravid
He is now not too far away from a second successive hundred and if he does achieve that, then India's lead will be in three figures which certainly will be a factor for the rest of the match. He has shepherded Sreesanth very well in this valuable partnership and has given the dressing room some much needed cheer.
The happenings earlier in the day were hard to understand. Sachin Tendulkar was not his usual composed self. He was almost run out off the first ball of the day and then in the following over tried to play the upper cut of a short ball but luckily missed it and then went down the pitch to Vettori and attempted a lofted shot which only ended as a thick outside edge into Ross Taylor's outstretched hands at first slip. In between these shots, he asked for a replacement bat and when the twelfth man Pujara brought a selection he didn't like any of those and sent the young man back sternly. It was quite uncharacteristic of him and showed that he was perhaps a little tense with all the expectations of his fiftieth hundred.
Dravid and Laxman have been playing together since junior cricket, so there were no alarms till they were together and looked well set till Dravid who is increasingly playing across the front pad was caught leg before. It is something that he needs to work out quickly since it's clear that there is pressure on him from the younger set of batsmen. One of those Suresh Raina will also have to do something special to keep his place for his dismissal was unexplainable.
India vs New Zealand
Why would a batsman who is getting his singles and the occasional boundary go for a lofted shot especially when there are two fielders kept in the deep just for that? Even a school boy wouldn't fall for such an obvious trap and for a player who is such a thoughtful one it was strange to say the least. The goodly crowd however were given plenty to shout by local boy VVS Laxman who played another fine composed innings that gave backbone to the Indian batting. Dhoni's soft dismissal also is worrying since he has now struggled with the bat for some Tests now.
In the end, the crowd stayed for Harbhajan who fully made up for their disappointment at Tendulkar's early dismissal and Laxman's missing out on a century.
PROFESSIONAL MANAGEMENT GROUP