Plays of the day

It's VVS, all through

Sidharth Monga in Napier

March 30, 2009

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VVS Laxman fends a short delivery, New Zealand v India, 2nd Test, Napier, 5th day, March 30, 2009
VVS Laxman picked the gaps to perfection © Associated Press
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Jeetan Patel bowled to VVS Laxman with a silly point and a silly mid-off for some time. The two fielders could have slapped each other's hands if they spread their arms. Would Laxman find that gap? Would he ever? Just a wristy dab, and none of them moved. The cover fieldsman ran, though, to save the boundary.

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Another interesting one after "Doull for PM" and "Jesse is our dad". "Chris Martin: vocals?" it read today. There was no Coldplay for Martin, though. The sun was out and the McLean Park was not a good place for the bowlers to be in, especially with Gautam Gambhir and Laxman in the moods they were in. Martin bowled 30 overs today, for one wicket.

3 for 3

In the 140th over of India's second innings, VVS Laxman pulled Chris Martin to square leg for four. With that, after four and a half days of chasing, India finally got ahead of New Zealand's 619. Thirteen wickets had fallen by then. Fancy being 3 for 3 in the second innings, after having spent pretty much all of your energy?

The only drop

And how heart-breaking it would have been for New Zealand. They had done all the running to keep their chances of a win alive. It was all but over when Gautam Gambhir, a veteran of about 610 minutes by then, hit Daniel Vettori straight to Iain O'Brien at mid-on. O'Brien mucked it up, and that was the first real fielding error by New Zealand in three days. India were only 13 ahead then, with 57 overs to go. Vettori tried to set up another chance but to no avail.

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Laxman couldn't have planned this, or could he? A bouncer he opened the face to - it was a deliberate shot, not up and over, but a catchable height, and there were two slips and two gullies waiting. Again none of the catchers moved, as the gap was found perfectly.

Sidharth Monga is a staff writer at Cricinfo

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