Napier:Gautam Gambhir's marathon match-saving 137 in the second Test against New Zealand on Monday earned him rich accolades from stand-in skipper Virender Sehwag who likened the pugnacious left-hander to Rahul Dravid and dubbed him the "second wall" of Indian cricket.
Otherwise an aggressive batsman, Gambhir batted for nearly 11 hours over three days to bail India out after the visitors were made to follow on in the match.
Sehwag said Gambhir has proved that he has developed his game and was capable of saving matches like Dravid, who has earned the reputation of being 'The Wall' for his impregnable defence and patience.
"He (Gambhir) is developing his game. He curbed his aggression and is learning with experience. He has become the second wall of Indian cricket," Sehwag, who stood in for injured MS Dhoni in the match, said after India forced a draw.
"We didn't bat well in the first innings but we did well in the second, especially Gautam and (VVS) Laxman. Gautam batted for nearly 11 hours and saved the match," Sehwag added.
Sehwag admitted his bowlers had to toil hard in New Zealand's first innings as the track did not give any assistance to them.
"It was a difficult job for the bowlers. The track was flat and except for some bounce, there was nothing in it. I told them to bowl in right areas and see that the batsmen commit mistakes," said Sehwag.
Meanwhile, New Zealand captain Daniel Vettori was a "bit disappointed" not to have won the match after "dominating for three days". "It is hard work for us. You don't expect you will be there for three days in a row but it showed how dominant position we were in. The bowlers bowled so well in the first innings and it gave us hope that we can do the job in the second," he said.
"We batted well in the first innings after being reduced to 22 for three and enforced a follow on against a very good side. Almost all the plans we had before the match came through," Vettori added.
Asked about the track at the McLean Park, Vettori said, "The pitch got easier and easier to bat. You can play another Test match on this if you want to though you expect Test match wicket to be offering assistance to bowlers and a bit of turn to the spinners.
"Whatever conditions we get (in the third Test) the performance here will give us lots of heart," he said.