India v New Zealand, 2nd Test, Hyderabad, 3rd day

Tendulkar's blood-rush and Harbhajan's selflessness

Plays of the Day from the third day of the second Test between India and New Zealand in Hyderabad

ESPNcricinfo staff

November 14, 2010

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VVS Laxman celebrates a half-century on his home ground, India v New Zealand, 2nd Test, Hyderabad, 3rd day, November 14, 2010
Sachin Tendulkar's early exit may have depressed the crowd, but VVS Laxman picked them up with some sublime shots © AFP
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Selfless moment of the day
Harbhajan Singh was batting on 49 with Sreesanth, the No. 11. Daniel Vettori had spread the field far and wide with only short third man and fine leg in the in-field. The single and the half-century were there for the taking after Harbhajan pushed the ball to long-off but he refused the run. He wanted to shield Sreesanth from the strike and finally took the single off the fifth ball to reach his third fifty-plus score of the series.

Take-that moment of the day
At first glance you could see only two New Zealand players on the field at the start of the 125th over - the wicketkeeper and the bowler. To spot the other nine, you had to look around the boundary line. Vettori had dispersed his players to perform damage control against a marauding Harbhajan. Brent Arnel ran into bowl, and Harbhjan readied himself. The ball was on a length and Harbhajan walloped it for four where Vettori couldn't place a fielder - right back over the bowler's head.

Blood-rush of the day
What was eating Sachin Tendulkar? He wanted a risky single off the first ball of the day but was sent back by Rahul Dravid. Soon after, he failed to connect with a chip over slip off Chris Martin and changed his bat during a maiden over. And then he charged Vettori, making room by moving towards leg to smash the ball over long-on. An entirely uncharacteristic shot so early in the day and the outside edge was splendidly held by Ross Taylor's outstretched right hand at first slip. The hush that fell over the ground would have told the thousands queuing outside that something had gone wrong.

Pick-me-up of the day
The crowd needed a lift after its chances of witnessing Tendulkar's 50th century were shattered, and Laxman provided it a couple of overs later. He caressed an outswinger from Martin through cover and then swivelled to pull crisply to deep square leg in the same over. His shots were met with loud applause but they proved to be only a blip in a clinical first-session performance from New Zealand.

Exciting over of the day
Judging by what had gone before, the events of three balls in the 84th over were gold for those unappreciative of the grind of hard-fought Test cricket. Laxman glided forward to drive and angled his bat late to send the ball precisely between cover and point for four. Brent Arnel responded with a short ball, which Laxman attempted to pull. He was too early and the ball thudded off his forearm towards second slip and the New Zealanders appealed long and hard. Laxman then responded with a shot only he can play, a wristy flick that sent the ball racing between the bowler and mid-on for four.

Encore of the day
Tim Southee was not happy. After bowling tight lines and lengths with the old ball during the morning session, he had an extremely close lbw shout with the new one against Rahul Dravid turned down by umpire Kumar Dharmasena off the first ball of the 88th over. It perhaps hadn't straightened enough. There was no doubt whatsoever, though, when Southee struck Dravid on the pad with the final ball of that over. Dravid had played for the movement away from him but the ball went straight on and he was plumb.

Field change of the day
Vettori had operated all day with mid-off and mid-on in place. Not for him the boundary riders at long-off and long-on. With these fields he dismissed Tendulkar, and kept Dravid and Laxman in check. Harbhajan and his happy-go-lucky shots, however, finally prompted a change. After one ball disappeared over wide mid-on and another to fine leg, Vettori pushed his men back. A while later, with India nine down, Harbhajan took on Vettori and his man on the long-on boundary and cleared it twice in succession.

Riposte of the day
New Zealand had tried nothing too aggressive to dismiss India's top-order batsmen but when Harbhajan and Zaheer were batting, their fast bowlers sent down bouncer after bouncer. Martin gave Zaheer a particularly nasty dose and forced the batsman to duck and swerve to protect his body. He became predictable, though, and bowled one too many, and Zaheer was ready. He moved towards leg and slashed hard, sending the ball soaring over point for a boundary that gave India the lead. He would fall soon after, top-edging another bouncer from Southee to fine leg.

Crowd of the match
It was a Sunday. Tendulkar was batting in pursuit of his 50th Test century. Laxman, playing a Test in his hometown for the first time, was to follow. If the combination of these factors couldn't fill the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium in Hyderabad, it was hard to imagine what could. The queues were long outside the ground and the crowd at the start of play was the largest so far. As the hours passed, the numbers swelled past 29,000 and only the topmost rows of the topmost stands were left empty under a harsh sun.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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