The only silver lining on the day for the touring Indians was the 81 run partnership between Rahul Dravid and V.V.S. Laxman. The little else in between was nothing much to write home about. This after they looking like steamrolling the hosts after the first Test.
Facing trouble being three down against New Zealand’s first innings total of 619, India courted more trouble as more than one batsmen reached out for the loose, wide deliveries almost obliging the hosts looking to square the series 1-1 at McLean Park, Napier in the second Test.
Sachin Tendulkar’s forty-nine that included a promising partnership with Rahul Dravid early in the day was followed up by the partnership between Dravid and Laxman and it turned out to be India’s only hope on the day for getting anywhere near New Zealand’s total. While Laxman was characteristically artistic, Dravid was at his reliable best. But that their own partnership could not carry on coupled with the fact that the Indian tail folded painfully quickly in the period after tea certainly perked up the Kiwi spirits. New Zealand captain Daniel Vettori did not hesitate, promptly putting India back to bat as he enforced the follow on with India half way behind.
Dravid’s eighty-three and Laxman’s seventy-six were the only individual innings of resistance on the day as India showed the folly of their ways, showing indiscipline on a pitch that they could do so much. Instead they have allowed the New Zealand bowlers to reap the rewards of sticking to their jobs on a rather unhelpful pitch.
With stand in captain Virender Sehwag back in the pavilion rather hastily in the match, Dravid will have to forget his feats of the morning and repeat it all over again if India are to avoid humiliation, surpass the deficit and set a target that is out of the New Zealand’s reach. Tall order but aren’t champions made of sterner stuff?