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Bowlers' day out but homing in on a sweep

cricket Updated: Sep 03, 2012 02:13 IST
Khurram Habib
Khurram Habib
Hindustan Times
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MS Dhoni had vowed to bat with the tail before this Test, but he couldn't deliver again. India's last five wickets fell for 52 as the tail, like the first Test, failed to show resistance on a damp morning here on Sunday.

India's batting collapse brought the Kiwis back in the game, and helped by some itsy bitsy partnerships, they have almost pulled level with the hosts.

Bangalore has been used to overcast conditions over the past 10 days with no sunshine for long periods. And this gave the Kiwis what they wanted.

Seaming conditions
The moist, cloudy morning, when Tim Southee wreaked havoc, was followed by brilliant sunshine when the Kiwis stitched those little partnerships.

"We fell to the early moisture in the first hour, but they got a good track to bat on," admitted Virat Kohli, who completed his second Test century.

Southee moved a couple away and then brought one in. Kohli, uncertain for one moment, shouldered arms and was trapped in front. Dhoni missed the line to also fall leg before to Southee while Zaheer Khan and Pragyan Ojha got the wicketkeeper into play.

But for Ashwin's sensible and mature play, India wouldn't have come within 12 runs of New Zealand's first innings total.

Vital strikes
The Kiwis began well and very soon were steering the game away from the Indians. Both skipper Ross Taylor and Kane Williamson were looking good but an Ashwin delivery took the edge off Williamson's bat and flew to Virender Sehwag at first slip. New Zealand were 81 ahead with eight wickets in hand and the wicket called for some celebration.

The man closest to Sehwag, skipper MS Dhoni, looked around, and raising his arm, jogged down the wicket to celebrate.

Left to enjoy the moment by himself, Sehwag pumped his fists and elicited reaction only from midwicket.

Later, when Daniel Flynn, after having threatened to take the game away from India, fell in similar fashion, the two did just a customary high five. Only when the lead was close to 200 did the two confer.

Gap in communication
For the two among the few seniors left in the side, standing so close to each other, the Kiwis were perhaps too weak for them to feel that they should discuss plans and they got together only when they were threatened.

Thankfully for India, New Zealand were found a bit short on patience and technique.

Their batsmen adhered to skipper Ross Taylor's plan of playing session by session, wicket by wicket. Barring the second wicket, and two late in the innings, every partnership was over 20, built with planned stroke-play. It helped bulge their lead to 244 at stumps.

But just when it looked the Kiwis were running away with the total, India managed to check the progress, sometimes thanks to reckless shots like in the case of Taylor, Franklin or Guptill and sometimes through the skill of the bowler, like in the dismissals of Williamson and McCullum.

The good news for India is that the wicket still looks benign and fit to play strokes with two full days left to wrap it up.