India stare at innings defeat at Napier


Napier : India are fast sinking in the second Test after New Zealand bowled them out for 305 in their first innings and asked them to follow-on. At the end of the third day’s play at McLean Park here Saturday, India were 47 for one in their second innings, still 267 runs short of New Zealand’s massive first innings total of 619.

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Stand-in-captain Virender Sehwag was only Indian wicket to fall before stunps were drawn. He was trapped in front while trying to sweep off-spinner Jeetan Patel.

Gautam Gambhir (14) and first innings top scorer Rahul Dravid (83) face a herculean task Sunday.

New Zealand outplayed India for the third consecutive day and are now on the brink of levelling the series.

Indian batsmen committed hara kiri on a pitch which still holds good for batting.

Resuming at 79 for three, India were banking on their experienced trio of V.V.S Laxman (76), Dravid (83) and Tendulkar (49) to see them through. They showed good form as they went about the task of overhauling New Zealand’s big first innings score but lapses of concentration proved to be their bane.

Dravid shared a 87-run stand with Tendulkar and added 81 runs with Laxman for the fifth wicket to take India to 246 for four.

The rest of the batting was below standard. India lost its last six wickets for only 59 runs.

The Indian batsmen seemed to learn nothing from the dismissals of Gautam Gambhir and Virender Sehwag; both had thrown their wickets going for attacking shots Friday. The trend continued Saturday.

India were five down for 246 and battling to save the follow-on after Dravid’s fall when Yuvraj Singh and Dinesh Karthik gift-wrapped their wickets for the New Zealand bowlers.

Yuvraj Singh’s lack of temparement to play Test cricket stood thoroughly exposed as was his vulnerability against the moving ball. The left-hander made the mistake of attempting an expansive cover drive with the feet nowehere near the ball, even before he could get his eyes set in the middle.

Laxman was playing solidly and needed support from the other end to wriggle India out of the crisis. Yuvraj’s penchant to play big shots early in the innings saw him give a simple catch to Tim Mcintosh at the second slip off Chris Martin (3-89), at the stroke of tea. It was Martin’s 150th Test wicket.

Martin struck again after tea but this time with the new ball. Karthik, who replaced skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni, too, chased a wide ball for a drive and edged it to Jesse Ryder in the third slip.

With India struggling at 270 for seven, Laxman only had the tail for company.

Harbhajan Singh broke the shackles as he charged down the track to dispatch Martin for a four and then pulled Iain O’Brien for a six.

Laxman, who had been caressing the ball to the fence with his elegant wrist, became Martin’s third victim. He too edged it to McIntosh at slip after playing 149 balls and hitting 14 fours.

O’Brien quickly drew the curtains as he got rid of Harbhajan and Zaheer Khan off successive deliveries.

Earlier in the day, Tendulkar and Dravid batted comfortably to put on 87 for the fourth wicket before the master batsman fell for 49.

Tendulkar was right on top of the New Zealand bowlers and batted fluently till he tried to force Patel through the covers to be caught at first slip by Ross Taylor. He hit seven fours and a six.

Dravid and Laxman looked like bailing out India, just as they have done many times in the past, before Ryder removed Dravid with an innocuous delivery.

Dravid chased a wide delivery for a cut only to edge it behind the stumps shortly before tea. He played 206 balls for his 55th half-century and hit 12 fours.

Laxman stood solid, playing graceful shots on either side of the wicket.

He got into the groove, driving Patel twice to the boundary in one over and then hitting O’Brien for two more fours in the last over before lunch.