'Harbhajan is the new Gary Sobers'

“It was a fantastic innings,” the former Indian skipper said of Harbhajan’s unbeaten 85 which has helped India open up an 86-run lead. “He has been batting brilliantly for us. In the last game, he played superbly to save the Test match. Today was a really good attacking innings and a really good partnership with Sreesanth, which means we are slightly ahead in the game. He was hitting it real sweet today. He is batting beautifully, he is the new Gary Sobers!”

Dravid also had a pat on the back for Sreesanth, who has helped Harbhajan add 69 so far for the last wicket. “Credit to Sreesanth, he has played 50 balls. They made him play 50 balls, and he has played them out. That was quite a significant part of that partnership.”

Several of India’s top-order got off to starts, but no one came up with a hundred. “It is disappointing, especially from a batsman’s perspective,” Dravid conceded. “You have done all the hard work, you have got settled in and we have not been able to carry on. But the good thing is we have been playing well as a team and we are getting the kind of scores we need in these conditions. We aren’t seeing those big scores but at least we are getting the par scores or the kind of scores we expect.

“There is a lot of time left in the game. Specially in India, we know that on the fourth and fifth days, the game starts moving very quickly,” he pointed out. “The more runs we can put on the board, the more pressure will be on New Zealand. If we can get a few early wickets, then we can put them under pressure. The wicket is still a good one, but we are hoping there will be some bounce and turn tomorrow.”

New Zealand’s fierce competitiveness elicited huge praise from Dravid. “They did bowl a lot of straight lines, with men on the leg-side. When the ball starts reversing in India, this sort of fields are employed by a lot of teams. What really stood out today was their fielding. Their ground fielding was exceptional, they stopped so many runs, especially when me and Laxman were batting. Their fielding helped create a lot of pressure.”

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