Laxman, Dhoni tons give India the upper hand
by Jinu Sabastian

Ground:Eden Gardens, Kolkata
Scorecard:India v South Africa
Player:MS Dhoni, VVS Laxman, MS Dhoni
Event:South Africa in India 2009/10

DateLine: 16th February 2010


If yesterday Sehwag and Tendulkar scored centuries to drive India to a position of strength today Laxman and Dhoni crossed the three figure mark to consolidate the position of strength. The duo's partnership of 259 helped India to run up a mammoth score of 643 with a huge lead of 347 in the bank.


The Indian overnight batsmen Laxman and Mishra did not waste time as the duo began the day by looking for runs. Smith started the day with Harris and Kallis and the pair negotiated them easily forcing Smith to take the new ball and hand it over to Steyn. Steyn opted for the short pitched deliveries against Mishra trying to intimidate Mishra who swayed away as well as threw his bat at it. While he connected some he missed some prompting Steyn to have a go at him verbally. Mishra too did not back down as he responded with some choicest words of his own. Finally Mishra (28, 38 balls, 3x4), who was dropped by Smith at mid-off, did not survive long as he was caught splendidly by Kallis at first slip.


That wicket brought together Laxman and Dhoni and the pair saw off the new ball with minimum fuss. Laxman was scoreless for about 37 balls but rarely did he look in any sort of trouble. The elegant right-hander survived a close call when he inside edged a Steyn in-swinger just past his off-stump and past a diving de Villiers. The pair continued to torment the South Africans even after lunch as they pressed the accelerator.


Laxman, on 47, survived a close call when he drove uppishly towards JP Duminy at point but the ball fell just short of the fielder. Dhoni on 23 survived a close chance when Kallis was slow to react to an outside edge of Harris who was visibly gutted. The pair moved on untroubled during the second session as the lead swelled past 250 by the time the session ended. Laxman soon brought up his 15th Test century, his fourth at Eden Gardens and his first against South Africa in 203 balls. Then with a gorgeous cover-drive Laxman brought up 1000 runs at this venue joining Gavaskar to be the only second Indian to do so in an Indian ground. Dhoni too joined the century brigade as he brought up his fourth Test century in 158 balls and soon the hell broke loose.


The pair soon upped the ante looking for quick runs as the declaration was imminent. Dhoni slammed two huge sixes as the partnership between him and Laxman grew to enormous propositions. The pair added undefeated 259 run in 65.2 overs putting India ahead by 347 before Dhoni decided that the hosts had enough runs on the board to trouble the South Africans. Laxman remained not out on 143 facing 260 balls with 16 delectable hits to the fence while Dhoni remained undefeated on 132 with 12 brutal hits to the fence and three over the ropes.


South Africa in reply faced on five balls from Zaheer before the light became murky. The umpires in the middle deemed the light unfit for the play to continue and offered it to the batsmen who accepted it without much hesitation.


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