Sourav Ganguly has been looking forward to this day for the last 28 months. That elusive Test hundred finally came about on a murky afternoon at the Feroz Shah Kotla in Delhi on the third day of the second Test match against Zimbabwe. The century hopefully marks the beginning of the end of the wretched form that Ganguly has been carrying with him in Test cricket for a long time now. He was still going strong at stumps on 135 off 279 balls, punctuating his knock with 21 fours and a six.
There was not much cricket played today at the Kotla as the sun kept playing hide and seek behind dark clouds. There was a shower in the morning to start with, and the occasional drizzle kept playing spoilsport for the best part of the day. In the 47 overs of play possible today, India scored 148 runs, losing the wickets of Virender Sehwag and Sanjay Bangar.
If it was Ganguly's day to celebrate, the crowd also had enough to cheer about as local hero Sehwag went about smashing the bowling regardless of the frequent stoppages. As yesterday, he targeted Ray Price, the most successful of Zimbabwe's bowlers at Nagpur. The left-arm spinner was not given enough time to settle into a good rhythm as Tendulkar allowed him to do the previous evening.
The wristy shots through mid-wicket, the powerful off-drives, and the caressing drive through covers were all a treat to watch at the Kotla. As a matter of fact, Sehwag took nine fours off Price. He did not spare the faster bowlers either; Streak too suffered through merciless hitting. In the meanwhile, Ganguly reached his hundred off the very last ball before the tea interval, pulling one from Streak to the fine-leg fence.
In the very first over after the tea break, bowled by Travis Friend, Sehwag struck a couple of boundaries to send out a clear message of getting on with the job at hand. If Sehwag has a weakness, though, it is the ball that leaves him outside the off. When Streak got it right once, Sehwag flashed at it, but the resultant edge was put down by Andy Flower at first slip. The very next ball was cleverly bowled - getting it to move back in off the seam and hitting Sehwag on the pads, well in line with the stumps. Umpire Jayaprakash did not hesitate to put the finger up. Sehwag made 74 brilliant runs off 118 balls, striking 16 boundaries and emphasising his value in the middle order.
Bangar came in and played a delicate shot to third-man for four. That was all he could make, as he became the second batsman to be dismissed by Ganguly's reluctant running. Carlisle's throw from covers to Taibu was a bit too quick for Bangar, who was trying to get back to his crease. India were 280/6 at that stage.
Streak (2/82) bowled well today without much luck. The final phase of today's play saw some dour defensive batting by Kumble. No running between wickets was to be seen as Kumble took much of the strike, leaving the in-form Ganguly a spectator at the non-striking end for the best part. India still trails by 10 runs and will be looking forward to building up a lead tomorrow.
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