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Dravid Pouches Coveted Mementos

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Fuseworks Media
Dravid Pouches Coveted Mementos

By Chris Barclay of NZPA

Wellington, April 7 NZPA - Rahul Dravid will depart New Zealand with two coveted souvenirs tomorrow -- a rare test series win in this country for India and the scuffed up ball he caught to become test cricket's most prolific fielder.

The Indian team's elder statesman finally took ownership of the historic ball as rain swept the Basin Reserve today, an interruption that eventually enabled New Zealand to escape with a draw.

The match was called off at 4.31pm when New Zealand, chasing 617, were 281 for eight in their second innings on the fifth and final day of the third test.

They were scheduled to negotiate another 57.3 overs although bad light would have eased that equation.

Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni called for the second new ball once it became obvious the weather was closing in 94.2 overs into New Zealand's desperate bid for survival.

While the second new ball was available after 80 overs, India retained the original until Dhoni instructed pace bowler Zaheer Khan to claim the last two wickets.

Khan he only managed one delivery to Iain O'Brien before the players retreated to the pavilion.

After winning the first test and drawing the second, India settled for a 1-0 scoreline, their first test series win here since 1968.

Dravid claimed three catches in New Zealand's second innings, al though it was a diving one-handed effort at third slip to remove Tim McIntosh before lunch yesterday that will stick in the 36-year-old's memory.

That grab enabled him to take ownership of the record he shared with retired Australian Mark Waugh, who took 181 catches during a 128-test career from 1991 to 2002.

Dravid joined Waugh when helping dismiss Martin Guptill on the opening morning of the series in Hamilton on March 18.

He might have had the record later that day but he dropped Daniel Vettori on 77; during the drawn second test in Napier he also grassed a sharp chance off Ross Taylor.

However, Dravid's reflexes were razor sharp in his 134th test to both the quick and slow men.

He took a hot edge from Khan's pace to remove McIntosh, but we was crouching in close at first slip to spinner Harbhajan Singh when he took catches to remove Jesse Ryder and Brendon McCullum, even if the New Zealand wicketkeeper made no contact.

England's Nasser Hussain was Dravid's first victim at test level, during his debut at Lord's in June of 1996.

Former fast bowler Javagal Srinath was the first of 22 Indian bowlers to share wicket-taking kudos with the veteran.

To illustrate his prowess close to the stumps, spinner Anil Kumble's haul includes 55 Dravid catches; Harbhajan's now stands at 46.

On his third and final test tour of New Zealand, Dravid was typically modest, preferring to deflect praise to his bowlers.

"To have taken so many catches is really a reflection on the quality of the attack I've been lucky to have played with," he said.

Dravid's record is likely to stand quite the test of time.

His nearest challengers are Australian captain Ricky Ponting and South African Jacques Kallis, equal on 131. Sri Lanka's Mahela Jayawardene is on 102.

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