LONDON, (Reuters) – Rahul Dravid ensured India avoided the follow-on in the first test against dominant England at Lord’s today with an unbeaten 103 after Sachin Tendulkar had again fallen cheaply at world cricket’s headquarters.
No other Indian batsman exceeded 50 as Dravid, alternating careful defence with wristy elegance, took India to 286 all out with his 33rd test century and his first at Lord’s.
England, who made 474 for eight declared in their first innings, were five without loss at the close of the third day, an overall lead of 193.
“I was thinking about the 274 (follow-on mark) all the time, I wasn’t thinking about my hundred,” Dravid told reporters.
“If we had had to bat again we would really have had our backs against the wall. The ball was new as well so we just needed to get as many runs as we could.”
Tendulkar, one century short of a record 100 international hundreds, was the centre of attention with a packed crowd willing him to succeed in the 2,000th test and the 100th between the two countries.
The little Indian maestro looked in excellent touch with six sweetly timed boundaries but in the end he could not even improve on his previous Lord’s best of 37.
After reaching 34 in a third-wicket partnership of 81 with Dravid, Tendulkar played a tentative prod at a revitalised Stuart Broad and was caught in the slips.
Broad, who retained his place in the final XI ahead of Tim Bresnan after an unsuccessful series against Sri Lanka when he pitched too short too often, bowled with pace and skill but little luck to finish with four for 37 from 22 overs.
He bowled left-handed openers Gautam Gambhir (15) and Ahbinav Mukund (49) after an opening partnership of 63 in the morning session and captured the wicket of Tendulkar with the fourth ball of his first over after lunch.
Andrew Strauss then grassed the simplest of chances at first slip before VVS Laxman had scored while Graeme Swann dropped a harder chance off Dravid at second slip, diving to his right in the same over.
Dravid, 42 at the time, celebrated by clipping Swann for his 10th boundary to reach his 61st test half-century.
Laxman failed to take advantage after his let-off, scoring only 10 when he lofted Chris Tremlett straight to Jonathan Trott at long-leg. Suresh Raina fell lbw to Swann for a duck three balls later and India were in trouble at 183 for five.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni played pragmatically, refusing to take any risks while Dravid steadily accumulated at the other end.
They added 57 for the sixth wicket before England called for the new ball and Tremlett found the outside edge of Dhoni’s bat.
This time Swann pouched the ball and the Indian captain was out for 28. Harbhajan Singh followed caught behind for a duck two balls later also off Tremlett.
Praveen Kumar swung merrily for 17 before he was caught off Broad fending a short-pitched delivery and James Anderson cleaned up the tail with the final two wickets.
Broad said he was very pleased with his performance.
“I think it was quite obvious that I bowled a full length today,” he said. “I think it worked getting the batsmen driving and that length could still hit the stumps.
“We all knew in the changing room that the way I bowled was the way to go.”