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Sidharth Monga in Hamilton
March 19, 2009
Rahul Dravid has carried his form from the Mohali Test before Christmas and the Indian domestic season on to New Zealand. Before missing out on what could have been his fifth century in his last seven first-class matches he had put India on the right track, despite the early dismissal of Virender Sehwag and the ample help the medium-pacers received from the conditions. There were contributions of equal significance from Gautam Gambhir, who looked good for a century himself, and Sachin Tendulkar, who will be targeting one tomorrow.
Although Dravid's was a solid innings, one that didn't keep the bowlers interested, he reckoned the pitch kept doing something throughout the day. "I really felt good today," he said. "My feet really moved well, and I got into the right position right through the day. I was scoring at a fairly decent clip. I got a pretty good delivery at that stage; the ball was still seaming a bit even after it was 60-65 overs old. Overall I'm quite satisfied, but it would have been nice to go on and get a big score."
Dravid might have got out at an inopportune time, but India held firm control of the match. At the end of the day they were just one run behind New Zealand's 279, with six wickets in hand. But Dravid felt India would need to bat well in the first session tomorrow to take complete control. "Sachin is still batting really well," he said. "Yuvi [Yuvraj Singh], [MS] Dhoni, the lower order can bat. We'd probably have liked to have lost one less wicket. That would have been an ideal scenario for us. If we bat well in the first session, and build a lead, we can put the pressure on them in the third innings.
"Obviously, from 60 for six [yesterday, when India had taken six wickets in the first session], you would have liked to think we would be in a better position, but we'll take this. At the end of the second day, if someone said we would be one run behind with six wickets in hand, we would have taken it."
India have put themselves in a really good position to win their first Test in New Zealand since 1976. If they do win this match they will back themselves to win their first series in New Zealand since 1968. But Dravid is not thinking about all that at the moment. "Let's not get ahead of ourselves," he said. "Let's take it session by session, one day at a time. We have got our noses ahead at the end of day two. Let's win a few more sessions and then start thinking about it day by day. They are a good side and they have shown that they bat deep. We are going to have to play really well. That doesn't change."
What's wrong with their cricket? Well, what isn't?