Napier (New Zealand), Mar.30 (ANI): India on Monday proved that it is a side very keen to acquire champion status by converting a no-win situation into which it was placed on the third day into a very creditable draw on the fifth and final day of the second Test against New Zealand at the MaClean Park in Napier.
Having been asked by the Kiwis to follow on 314 runs behind on the third day of the Test, India's batters put up a spirited reply and pushed the Test towards a draw with a second innings score of 476 for four.
Led by opener Gautam Gambhir, who scored a hard fought 137 in his nearly 11 hours at the crease; the Indian middle-order set the damage right in a forceful manner. V.V.S. Laxman with an unbeaten 124 and half centuries by Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar and Yuvraj Singh were the other contributions.
"Yeah definitely," was Laxman's response when asked on day three if India could save this Test. Two days later he was walking the talk with his 14th Test century. India's batting efforts in the second innings, spanning 180 overs, ensured a draw and a 1-0 lead going to Wellington for the third and final Test, which begins this Friday.
For the second day running, Kiwi skipper and left arm spinner Daniel Vettori and his other bowlers had to struggle to raise themselves in a match that they appeared to have in the bag on Saturday.
Gambhir's knock spanned 642 minutes and 436 deliveries.
The shots that were shunned by the Indians for five sessions came out in full flow after tea on the fifth day. The 100 partnership between Laxman and Yuvraj took just 59 minutes as boundaries flew about.
The hard work done by those before him, Yuvraj breezed his way to a fifty from 61 balls, punctuated with ten punchy boundaries. Laxman remained unbeaten on 124 while Yuvraj picked up some needed form as the game was drawn.
None of this was possible without Gambhir. With Tendulkar gone early in the day, nicking a loose drive behind for 64, the workload on Gambhir had increased exponentially but he handled the pressure as he had all of day four: with utter confidence.
Laxman offered solid support. He let deliveries go which he caressed away during the first innings and padded away plenty of what Vettori sent his way. The contributions of Rahul Dravid and Tendulkar in both innings helped as well. It can be said that India managed a "Great Escape". (ANI)