On 171/4 at the end of the second day's play of the Delhi Test, the best news for Indian fans was a purple patch that skipper Sourav Ganguly ran into, striking a six and 11 fours in his unbeaten knock of 78 off 168 balls. Giving him company at stumps was Virender Sehwag on 16 off 24 deliveries.
Zimbabwe could add only 69 runs to their overnight score, despite captain Stuart Carlisle's wishes of a total in the 400-450-run range at the end of the first day. He would have been disappointed, therefore, with the final tally of 329, but more disappointed would have been young Dion Ebrahim. Looking good to get his maiden Test hundred, Ebrahim struck a boundary to move into the nineties, but he was soon given out lbw to Javagal Srinath by umpire Ashoka de Silva. The batsman was hit high above the knee-roll and distinctly unlucky to be given out, becoming the second batsman to miss out on a hundred in the innings. His knock of 94 off 203 balls included 10 hits to the fence.
Tatenda Taibu then joined Travis Friend and added 21 runs for the eighth wicket to take the score to 310. Anil Kumble's appeal for lbw against Taibu (13) was upheld by umpire Jayaprakash; two balls later, Kumble struck again, with Raymond Price (0) turning back to see his off-stump uprooted by a yorker.
Friend managed to smack a huge six over long-on off Harbhajan Singh before he left the field. In an effort to repeat the shot in the very same over, he was caught at the mid-wicket fence by Sachin Tendulkar. Friend made 43 off 105 balls, striking three boundaries and that massive six. Brighton Watambwa remained unbeaten on three.
For India, Anil Kumble was the most successful bowler with figures of 34-13-88-3. Srinath, Zaheer Khan and Harbhajan Singh picked up two wickets each.
India did not get off to a good start with the bat. Shiv Sunder Das (13) was caught down the leg-side by Taibu off the bowling of Heath Streak. In a surprise move, Sourav Ganguly came out to bat at number three looking for a Test hundred that has eluded him for 28 months. The Indian skipper showed signs of his old form and class, playing his trademark square drives to the boundary.
Deep Dasgupta struck four boundaries to make 19 before completely misjudging a slow full toss from Friend. Dasgupta had to pay the price for losing sight of the ball whilst standing in front of the wicket, something he has regularly been doing behind the stumps.
Sachin Tendulkar got off to a flying start, taking three boundaries off a Friend over. Soon after the tea break, however, Tendulkar survived a loud and confident shout for lbw off the bowling of Price. It was a very close call for the master batsman, and that seemed to push him into a shell. Struggling to get the ball off the square, Tendulkar could only score six runs off 68 balls after tea.
In the meanwhile, Ganguly scored his first fifty in 12 innings after the match-winning 98 not out at Kandy against Sri Lanka. He celebrated the return to form by lofting Grant Flower for a massive six over long-on. Tendulkar, in an effort to cut loose, pulled Flower to the mid-wicket fence for four after going through a 97-ball spell without a boundary. But ultimately, Price got his man. Tendulkar was trapped plumb in front, much to the delight of the tourists. The little master eked out just 36 runs off 119 balls, striking five boundaries.
There was more drama waiting to unfold. In the 60th over, with the score on 144, Ganguly pushed the ball to Friend at mid-on and called Rahul Dravid for a single. As an after-thought, the skipper sent his deputy back, only to find Friend throwing down the stumps with a direct hit. Dravid (1) was found just short of the crease by the third umpire.
With India on 144/4 and in some trouble, local lad Sehwag came out to bat. The exciting youngster got going immediately, scoring four boundaries off Price. In the penultimate over of the day, Ganguly enjoyed some good fortune, surviving a good lbw shout from Streak.
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