Shikhar Dhawan bats during day three of the first Test against New Zealand at Eden Park in Auckland. (AFP Photo)
Shikhar Dhawan and Cheteshwar Pujara put up a solid second wicket stand of 63 runs to get India to 87 for one at stumps on Day 3 of the first Test at the Eden Park stadium in Auckland. They need 320 more to win.
India lost opener Murali Vijay early to an unfortunate decision. Vijay (13) fell trying to tuck Tim Southee down the leg side but got caught behind. He was sure he had not nicked it and Hot Spot reviews seemed to agree with him, but without DRS, the decision of the field umpire stood.
Shikhar Dhawan (49*) and Cheteshwar Pujara (22*) then put up a strong front to stabilise the chase of 407 runs.
Dhawan looked a bit jittery at the outset. He played a lose shot to a Southee delivery outside off, but luckily for him, Brendon McCullum could not hold on to it. He settled down since then.
Apart from the last few hours, the day belonged completely to the bowlers with as many as 17 wickets tumbling since morning. A double strike from Ishant Sharma in the first over after tea saw New Zealand finish their second innings at 105 with a lead of 406.
India got off to a wonderful start to the third innings of the match. Mohammed Shami picked up three early wickets to give India a head start. In the first over, he removed Hamish Rutherford for a golden duck when he trapped the Kiwi opener in front of the wicket.
In his next over, he removed the other opener, Peter Fulton. It was a soft dismissal with Fulton failing to control a drive off a half volley and giving short cover some catching practice.
In the sixth over, Zaheer Khan struck, claiming the vital wicket of Kane Williamson. Williamson failed to keep a hip high delivery down, and Ravindra Jadeja took a brilliant catch at short midwicket.
Double centurion of the first innings Brendon McCullum was next to go. The Kiwi skipper ran himself out while trying to sneak a cheeky single, failing to accounting for the Jadeja's agility at short midwicket.
Then, Mohammed Shami bowled Corey Anderson for 2 with a brilliant delivery that beat the batsman completely with sheer pace. It pitched short of length just on the off stump and came into the left hander a bit, going through his defences to rattle the stumps.
Ross Taylor (41) and BJ Watling (11) then tried a rescue act and scored 38. The going was not smooth though with edges falling short or flying off quite frequently.
Finally Taylor's luck ran out and Zaheer struck in the first over of his return spell. He edged a delivery that was a touch outside off and Ajinkya Rahane took an absolute stunner of a catch in the slip cordon.
Jadeja then claimed his first wicket of the innings, getting Tim Southee to push at a full delivery for an easy catch at short mid wicket.
Post tea break, Ishant struck twice. First to go was BJ Watling, who was completely beaten and lost his stumps. A few balls later he snared Ish Sodhi, who tried to play across the line and ended up giving Rohit Sharma a catch in the slip cordon.
The tail did wag with Neil Wagner (14) going hard at the Indian bowling. Finally Ishant finished off the Kiwi innings by getting the tailender caught in the deep. The hosts folded up with a paltry 105 on board but given their huge score in the first innings, they set a target of 406 for India.
Earlier, the day’s proceedings started with India taking forward from 130/4 in their first innings. Ajinkya Rahan (26) and Rohit Sharma (72) resumed their innings but the visitors could add only 72 runs to the tally (202). Only Dhoni (10) and Jadeja (30*) managed to reach double figures.
Live Commenatry of New Zealand Second Innings:
Commentary, India First Innings: