India 301/6, lead by 109 runs at tea

India 301/6, lead by 109 runs at tea

Ajinkya Rahane struck his third Test fifty to help India reach 301 for six at tea on day two of the second and final match against New Zealand here today.

At the Basin Reserve, Rahane was batting on 64 off 108 balls at the break, and his two 50-run partnerships with captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni (39 batting off 57 balls) and Virat Kohli (38) helped India take a 109-run first innings lead.

India added exactly 100 runs from 28 overs bowled in the post-lunch session with the loss of one wicket.

Kohli and Rahane had begun the post-lunch session at 201/5, looking to bat for time and get a substantial lead for the team. They batted with confidence and picked their areas to score. While the former looked to attack, the latter played a solid game, and neither bothered about the run-rate.

The duo brought up their 50-run partnership in the 62nd over and yet did not change gears, looking set for a longer innings together. But then, against the run of play, Neil Wagner got Kohli driving and caught at short cover, much to the dismay of the batsman. Kohli was out for 38 runs off 93 balls.

Dhoni's entry to the crease was an important passage of play for India thereafter, because any more wickets would have meant the tail being exposed to the new ball. He played an attacking game first up and then settled down to build a partnership with Rahane.

Rahane brought up his half-century off 93 balls with seven fours, and his 50-run partnership with Dhoni for the seventh wicket in the 78th over.

The new ball was taken in the 81st over, immediately after it became due, but the two set batsmen continued to deny New Zealand, bringing up the 300 for India at the stroke of tea.

Tim Southee and Trent Boult have so far got two wickets apiece while James Neesham (1/17) had picked up his sole wicket in the morning. Corey Anderson (0/29) and Neil Wagner (0/46) went wicket-less.

Earlier, Shikhar Dhawan missed a second consecutive hundred by two runs as India scored 201 for five at lunch.

Dhawan and Ishant Sharma started the day on 71 and three respectively at the overnight score of 100/2, looking to soften up the ball which was still relatively new with only 28 overs old. This was the role for the latter especially, who now did not have to protect the incoming batsmen.

Ishant continued to face a hostile barrage from the Kiwi bowlers who faltered in not bowling full to him, and trying to bounce him out. This allowed him to open up a bit as he spent more time at the wicket.

Ishant struck three valiant fours and scored 26 runs (off 50 balls) putting on 52 runs with Dhawan for the third wicket. He was out in the 37th over, edging Boult behind and was caught handsomely by keeper BJ Watlin.

Dhawan had started watchfully but even he started stroking fluently, with the 150-mark coming up for India in the 42nd over. He was joined in the middle by Kohli after Ishant's dismissal and this small passage of play saw some funny cricket by the two batsmen, as they made a variety of mistakes, ranging from chasing wide deliveries to a couple of mix-ups in between the wickets.

It resulted in a wicket then, and a heartbreak for Dhawan, who fell two runs short of a second consecutive Test hundred. He went for a drive against a length delivery bowled by Southee and was caught behind, again by the keeper. He hit 14 fours and one six.

Three runs later, it became a wobbly situation for India as Rohit Sharma (0) was once again dismissed off a loose shot. He tried to drive a really wide delivery, without any particular feet movement, and managed to play onto his stumps, giving debutant Jimmy Neesham his first Test wicket.

The double blow meant New Zealand could still come back into the game, especially when the ball was changed soon afterwards. But, Kohli and Rahane grafted well enough to avoid any further damage until the session break.

Shortly before the interval, in the 53rd over, India went past the New Zealand total, and then the 200-mark came up at the stroke of lunch.

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