November 15, 2010 2:39:58 pm
Harbhajan Singh smashed his way into the record books by becoming the first number eight batsman in the history of Test cricket to hit back-to-back tons even as the second Test between India and New Zealand headed towards a tight finish in Hyderabad.
After Harbhajan propelled the hosts to a challenging 472 with a blistering unbeaten 111 off 114 deliveries,Brendon McCullum led a strong New Zealand riposte by notching up his sixth Test century,which helped his side finish the day at 237 for the loss of four wickets.
The New Zealanders gained a lead of 115 runs at stumps,on day four,at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium.
After being at receiving end of McCullum’s onslaught,Indian bowlers,however,struck late in the day to give the hosts a slight edge going into the final day.
At close,McCullum was going great guns having scored 124 off 177 deliveries,while giving him company was Kane Williamson,on 12. With Williamson for company,McCullum would ideally like to bat atleast an hour after lunch in order ensure that the Black Caps are in the safety zone.
The crowd at the stadium went quiet as McCullum smashed the Indian bowlers for 11 boundaries and three sixes,but S Sreesanth brought some cheer back in the stands when he got one move in a bit after pitching breaching through Ross Taylor’s defence.
McCullum,however,stood firm at the other end and a spanking off-drive off the bowler stood out.
Earlier,openers McCullum and Tim McIntosh started on a positive note and shared an opening stand of 125 to help New Zealand clear the deficit and take a nine-run lead by tea,after Harbhajan’s exploits in the morning session saw Indians take a first innings lead of 122.
Both the New Zealand openers batted with ease and displayed great character in dealing with the Indian spinners. After Zaheer Khan and S Sreesanth failed to provide a breakthrough,Mahendra Singh Dhoni introduced the spinners but the New Zealand openers,especially McCullum,used their feet well to score some quick runs against Harbhajan and Pragyan Ojha.
McCullum sashayed down the ground to loft Harbhajan over his head to signal his intentions. He then greeted Ojha with another massive six over long-off,which landed on the second tier of the pavilion end,and then swept the bowler to the deep midwicket boundary.
Harbhajan was again at the receiving end of McCullum’s onslaught,when the batsman smashed him for the maximum over long-off.
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