|Player:||RS Dravid, VVS Laxman, A Mishra, L Balaji|
|Event:||India in New Zealand 2008/09|
DateLine: 6th March 2009
Former India skipper Rahul Dravid began his third tour of New Zealand on a bright note, scoring a dignified 102 for Canterbury Wizards against Central Stags in a NZC first-class match at the Mainpower Oval, Rangiora, on Friday.
Given the opportunity to warm up ahead of the first Test at Hamilton on March 18, Dravid struck 13 boundaries during his 226-minute vigil at the wicket. The 36-year-old right-hander, who fell to medium-pacer Brendon Diamanti, shared a 93-run second wicket partnership with Michael Papps (127). Incidentally, this was Dravid's fourth hundred in seven matches since resurrecting his career with a stubborn ton against England at Mohali. He had made hundreds in the Duleep Trophy quarter-finals (against Central Zone in Bangalore) and semi-finals (against North Zone at Rajkot) last month.
However, leg-spinner Amit Mishra disappointed in his maiden outing on Kiwi soil. Playing in the same match for Central Stags, Mishra failed to impress, conceding as many as 101 runs from his 28 overs, without any purchase. Elsewhere, stylish middle-order batsman VVS Laxman, playing for Otago Colts, also failed to make a mark against Wellington Firebirds. Although the writsy Hyderabadi spent 69 minutes at the University of Oval pitch in Dunedin, he just made 20 in Otago's first innings score of 174.
Laxmipathi Balaji, who made a daring comeback from a crippling back injury, however, got a good feel of New Zealand conditions in the same match. Operating with the new ball for the Firebirds, the right-arm medium-fast bowler bowled 15 overs in the low-scoring match and picked up the wicket of SB Haig. The other two members of the Indian Test outfit, Dhawal Kulkarni and Murali Vijay, will turn out for Stags and Firebirds respectively in the next round of New Zealand Cricket state championship in Napier from March 13-16.