| Sachin Tendulkar hooks one to the boundary on the final day of the three-day match against Central Districts at McLean Park in Napier Sunday. Sachin was unbeaten on 52. (AP/PTI)
Napier: Three Indian batsmen struck impressive half-centuries as the tourists earned the much-needed batting practice ahead of the first Test and forced a draw against Central Districts on the final day of the three-day game here Sunday.
The Indians, who were shot out for 209 in the first innings, batted resolutely to reach 191 for three in the second essay before thundershowers brought an early end to the day’s proceedings at the McLean Park.
The Indians — who conceded an 86-run lead to the hosts after Central Districts rode on a fine century by Bevan Griggs to declare their first innings at 295 for nine — did well to find their bearings on the final day of the only warm-up match during the entire 47-day tour.
Though Sanjay Bangar (70), Virender Sehwag (61) and Sachin Tendulkar (52 not out) played confidence-boosting knocks, the biggest disappointment was Rahul Dravid who failed with the bat for the second time in the match.
Dravid, the most prolific Indian batsman this year, was bowled by Andrew Schwass for one after he attempted a flick at a delivery which cut away sharply and hit his stumps.
Dravid was out for nought in the first innings off only the second ball when he had edged a catch to Michael Mason behind the stumps.
Sehwag was his usual belligerent self and smashed boundaries on either side before an expansive drive to a delivery he was nowhere near to resulted in a catch to the ’keeper.
The dashing opener batted for only 55 balls for his 61 runs and hit 11 fours.
Bangar played true to his style and looked to keep most deliveries out of his stumps. He was unbeaten on 39 at lunch and had moved to 52 by tea break during a curtailed afternoon session.
He started to hit out at everything after tea, apparently under instructions, so that others could get a look-in as well.
Bangar, in doing so, was caught at long on off Glen Sulzberger, having batted for 161 balls and hit seven fours and a six during his innings.
Sachin, on the other hand, treated the home bowlers with scant respect, cutting and driving the pacers at will and picking a delivery from outside his off-stump to midwicket boundary to complete his half-century.
No sooner had he achieved the landmark, a downpour forced the abandonment of the match 90 minutes before the scheduled close.
Sachin remained unbeaten on 52 from 94 balls and hit seven fours in all. V. V. S. Laxman, who came to the crease at the fall of Bangar, also remained unbeaten on one.