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Record-setting Laxman and Dravid continue to torment Australia

CALCUTTA, March 14 (AFP) - Double-centurion Venkatsai Laxman and Rahul Dravid compiled a record unbroken stand of 259 to continue India's brilliant comeback in the second Test against Australia here on Wednesday.

Laxman was unbeaten on 227 and Dravid was on 106 as India, following on 274 runs behind, went to tea on the fourth day at 491-4 in their second knock, an overall lead of 217.

The partnership was India's best for the fifth wicket in Test cricket, surpassing the 214 by Mohammad Azharuddin and Ravi Shastri against England at the same venue in 1984.

The pair, who smashed 122 runs in the morning session, added 115 in the two hours after lunch as the Australian bowlers finally took a sustained hammering in the series.

Leg-spinner Shane Warne went for 134 runs in 30 overs, fast bowler Jason Gillespie for 109 in 28 and Glenn McGrath conceded 75 runs for just one wicket.

The 26-year-old Laxman is just 10 runs away from surpassing Sunil Gavaskar's 236 against the West Indies in 1983 to achieve the highest individual score in Tests for India.

Laxman and Dravid came together at the crease on Tuesday evening with India struggling at 232-4, still 42 runs away from making Australia bat again.

Dravid brought up the 200th run of the partnership by driving Gillespie for a boundary.

Laxman then drove Mark Waugh through the covers for his 35th boundary to bring up his individual double-century.

The wristy batsman had overtaken his previous best of 167, also against Australia at Sydney last year, shortly before lunch.

Laxman has so far hit 39 boundaries during his eight-hour vigil at the crease. The more circumspect Dravid has 15 boundaries.

Earlier, the pair made light of the second new ball to score 51 runs from 15 overs in the first hour of play.

Laxman, promoted to the number three slot after a top score of 59 in the first innings, continued his stirring form with a flurry of fours all around the wicket.

Dravid, bowled by Warne in the first innings, hit back with three consecutive boundaries off the leg-spinner.

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