Laxman century boosts India

An unbeaten century by VVS Laxman has given India control of the first test against Zimbabwe in Bulawayo.

Laxman scored his eighth test match hundred to help India reach 325 for 3 at stumps on day two.

Earlier in the day, Irfan Pathan cleaned up the tail quickly to return figures of 5 for 58, his fourth five-wicket haul in tests. Zimbabwe resumed the day on 265 for 7 with captain Tatenda Taibu on 61 and Keith Dabengwa unbeaten with 35. In an impressive display of quick bowling, Pathan demonstrated just how lethal he can be when the ball in swinging, as the tailenders came and went with regularity.

The Indian openers begin the innings brightly, with Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir scoring at more than five an over in the pre-lunch session. They initially revelled in the perfect batting conditions, taking to Andy Blignaut in particular that went for 71 runs off his 11 overs.

Just as both openers were set, Mahwire struck twice in two overs. Sehwag, who had raced to 44 off 48, played across a straight delivery and was bowled. Gambhir flashed a drive to second slip and was out for an equally high-tempo 46.

Rahul Dravid came to the wicket with some regrettable form in the Videocon Tri-series behind him, but he played as it was a distant memory. Laxman joined him and began tentatively, an edge from Mahwire failing to reach second slip when on 8. He seemed to take stock from that moment and applied dogged determination with the reassuring Dravid at the other end.

Dravid played freely without being reckless: he thrived on dominating the weakened Zimbabwe attack. He and Laxman brought up their eighth century partnership in tests and took away any early advantage Zimbabwe thought they had. Upon reaching 77, Dravid edged a rising Mahwire delivery behind to end the 130 run partnership.

The post tea session allowed Laxman to take control of the tired bowling attack, and he scored his hundred with a classy cover drive.

It was an innings of quiet determination, an understated innings of satisfaction and total professionalism. A muted punch in the air upon reaching his milestone signified just how much his effort meant to him and his team.

Much maligned skipper Sourav Ganguly looked set for a long stint at the crease; he reached a solid 23 by the close. India will look to score well over 450 to put the result beyond doubt.

Match Summary: Stumps, Day 2
India 325/3
VVS Laxman 125no, Rahul Dravid 77
Blessing Mahwire 3-67

Zimbabwe 279 all out
Tatenda Taibu 71no, Terry Duffin 56
Irfan Pathan 5-58, Zaheer Khan 3-74

India lead by 46 runs with 7 first innings wickets remaining.

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