Big-hitting Harbhajan flays New Zealand attack

Sunday, 14 November 2010 22:57 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

HYDERABAD, India, Nov 14 (Reuters) - Indian spinner Harbhajan Singh continued to torment New Zealand with the bat, hitting an unbeaten 85 to earn the hosts a first-innings lead of 86 on the third day of the second test on Sunday.

The right-hander followed up scores of 69 and 115 in the first test at Ahmedabad by bludgeoning the New Zealand attack again with seven boundaries and five sixes to bring up his ninth half-century in tests.

Harbhajan added 69 runs in an unbroken last wicket partnership with Shanthakumaran Sreesanth to propel India to 436 for nine in their first innings, after New Zealand captain Daniel Vettori had orchestrated a batting collapse.

Vettori picked up Sachin Tendulkar, Suresh Raina and India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni to add to his overnight scalp of Virender Sehwag.

Vangipurappu Laxman (74) scored his 48th half-century and added 75 runs with Rahul Dravid (45) for the fourth wicket before Dravid was trapped plumb in front by paceman Tim Southee.

The stylish Laxman, playing his first test in front of his home crowd at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium, also added 52 runs for the fifth with Raina, who holed out to Martin Guptill at mid-wicket trying to smote Vettori out of the ground.

Laxman was out leg before immediately after the tea break and was followed soon after by Dhoni (14), who was deceived by Vettori’s flight and scooped one straight to Brendon McCullum at short cover.