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Laxman, Jaffer lift India

Derby: Wicketkeeper-batsman Ajay Ratra posted an unbeaten half-century as India reached 301 for five on the opening day of the three-day match against Derbyshire Wednesday. Rahul Dravid (40) was the other batsman at the crease.

Earlier, VVS Laxman (75) and Wasim Jaffer (49) bailed the visitors out of trouble with a 102-run fourth-wicket stand after the County side had reduced them to 62 for three after the tourists opted to bat.

Ratra, first-choice íkeeper in the Indian side for the first Test but ignored in the last two, batted elegantly for his 50. He hit nine fours in his 128-ball knock.

Ratra walked out to the middle in the 47th over after Jaffer became the fourth man to fall with the total on 164.

Jaffer (49, 9x4, 1x6) was attractive and played 81 balls. The Mumbai opener also played his part well in the stand with Laxman who top-scored in his inimitable classy manner, spanking 15 fours from 137 balls.

The two repaired the innings after India had lost Sanjay Bangar (17) and Virender Sehwag (15). Sehwag hit a few trademark shots on the off-side before he shouldered arms to paceman Neil Gunter. The ball swung in late and hit the off-stump. Bangar fell soon after.

India lost their third wicket when Shiv Sundar Das (18), after surviving a close call in the second slip, was clean bowled by part-time medium-pacer Mathew Dowman.

Dravid, with back-to-back Test hundreds, continued his good form and hit seven boundaries in his unbeaten effort.

Earlier, top Indian batsmen Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly decided to sit out the game. Medium-pacers Zaheer Khan and Ajit Agarkar were also rested, though the spin duo of Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh was persisted with.

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