Brilliant Dravid 190 gives India lifeline

4 December 1998

HAMILTON, New Zealand, Jan 4 (AFP) - A brilliant knock of 190 from India's Rahul Dravid gave his team a lifeline in the third and final Test against New Zealand here Monday.

The third day's play began with New Zealand confident of holding a good lead out of their first innings 366, but ended with Dravid leading India to a 50-run innings lead.

Dravid and Javagal Srinath's record 144-run partnership helped give India 416 after they had started the day on a precarious 196 for five.

The Indian batsmen were helped by some dreadful fielding, which included four dropped catches.

But despite Dravid's heroics, New Zealand remain confident of clinching the series and at stumps the Kiwis were just five runs behind India's first innings total after a steady start to their second innings.

Opener Matthew Bell finished 18 not out with partner Matthew Horne on an unbeaten 25.

New Zealand captain Stephen Fleming believes his side can fight their way back into a position of authority.

``We are 1-0 up in the series and if we bat well tomorrow we can bat them out of the game,'' Fleming said.

``The game is very even but they have to bat last so I think the game is still in our court.

``I don't intend leaving them any target but having said that we intend batting positively and we'll see how we are placed tomorrow night.''

The four dropped catches behind the wicket cost New Zealand a healthy first innings advantage.

Srinath was the fortunate batsman each time and paceman Dion Nash the unfortunate with three being grassed off his bowling.

``We lost the initiative with the missed chances. The bowlers created chances but unfortunately we could not hold them. It was frustrating but with Nathan (Astle) not there (in the slips) we've had to reshuffle things and it isn't quite clicking,'' Fleming added.

Wicket-keeper Adam Parore dropped two and Bell and Daniel Vettori one each in the slips.

Dravid, who began the day on 93, brought up his third Test century with a glorious shot off the back foot through point.

It was his 17th boundary of the innings and 14 more followed before he played a tired shot in the final session to give Chris Cairns his third wicket.

``Nash and (Simon) Doull bowled well but Cairnsy let himself down by bowling so many four balls. He let the pressure off and it meant the Indian batsmen could play safe against Doull and Nash, and score off him,'' Fleming said.

Dravid's score was 41 runs short of the record for an Indian batsmen against New Zealand, 231, which was set by Vinoo Mankad in Madras in 1955-56.

He did have the satisfaction of posting the highest Test score on the ground, beating Mark Greatbatch's 133 against Pakistan in 1992-93, and with Srinath broke India's eighth-wicket record against New Zealand.

Dravid said he felt he needed to make amends after getting out to a poor shot in the second test in Wellington.

``I wanted to put my hand up here and do the job right through,'' the 25-year-old Dravid said.

``I was a little bit disappointed to get out before the double hundred, but you have to be satisfied with what you get in life.''

Indian captain Mohammad Azharuddin said he was ``hopeful, not confident'' of forcing a result in the match.

India were handicapped in their quest for early second innings wickets when Srinath was hampered by body cramps but Azharuddin expects him to be fit to bowl Tuesday.

``I'm quite hopeful. They are still five runs behind and the wicket is not going to be that easy so we have a chance,'' Azharuddin said.

``Rahul has given us a chance and we need to take it quickly because time is running out for us.''

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