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This ton better than the one against Aus: Gambhir

December 19, 2008 18:28 IST

The last time he scored a century at Mohali, India beat World champions Australia. But, considering the circumstances, Gautam Gambhir ranks Friday's century against England in the second Test higher than the one he scored against Ricky Ponting's men in October.

- Scorecard | Images

"This is a special century because the ball was doing quite a bit in the morning and we were six for one at that stage," said the Delhi batsman, who remained unbeaten on 106 at the end of the opening day's play.

A gifted strokeplayer, Gambhir proved he has a mature head over his shoulders. The 27-year-old batsman curbed his natural game and joined hands with Rahul Dravid to steady the ship after Sehwag's early exit.

"It was special because England came hard on us. Trailing the series 1-0, they had nothing to lose. Against Australia, I did get a century in the second innings and we won; but the century today is crucial because of the conditions," said Gambhir, who slammed 104 against Australia in the second Test of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy at the same venue in October.

"After we won the Chennai Test, their morale was really low, especially coming after their 5-0 defeat in the ODI series. We knew they would come hard against us here because its there last chance to level the series. But I think we have done a good job and need to capitalise on it tomorrow," he said.

Dravid also played a patient, unbeaten knock of 65, which not only steadied India but also snapped his string of poor scores.

Gambhir said Dravid played an important role and expressed hope that the knock would help the former captain retain his sagging confidence.

"He played a very important knock today, both from his personal and the team's point of view. We were six for one and the ball was doing a lot. At that stage, we really needed a big partnership and I think he tackled the seamers really well", Gambhir said.

"He is a legend of the game with 10,000-plus runs under his belt. Who am I to comment on him? But I think after this one innings, his confidence would be high and he will continue to do well," Gambhir added.

The Delhi player said Mohali is his lucky ground and hopes the love affair continues.

"Two centuries in two matches is very special and it really has been a lucky venue for me. I just want to continue (the trend)," he said.

This was Gambhir's third century in four matches and the left-hander said he is chasing 1000 runs in this calendar year.

"This year, I have been hitting the ball well. Before this Test, I needed 150-odd runs to complete 1000 runs this year and I'm determined to get there," he said.

On the ongoing Test, Gambhir said the team will stay focused and positive to ensure a second win in the series.

"We should have a positive mindset. We are 1-0 up in the series but that should not lead to a defensive mindset. The next four days, we need to think how we can win the match and nothing else. We need to win and become the number two ranked team in the world," he said.

During his innings, Gambhir was particularly harsh on England left-arm spinner Monty Panesar but the batsman said the England player did not bowl too badly. Rather, he said, the Indian batsmen had devised a way to counter the spinner.

"I think he bowled pretty well but our batsmen handled him well too. It's never easy for a spinner to succeed against India. In Chennai, we negotiated him well and that gave us the confidence here," he said.

Asked if replacing Steve Harmison with Stuart Broad took some sting out of the English attack, Gambhir felt otherwise.

"I think Broad bowled really well and hit the good areas. Remember, he is the lone wicket taker of the day. He had done well in the ODI series also and we knew once he is fit (from a hamstring injury), he would be back in the side," Gambhir said.

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