McCullum leads Kiwi fightback, but India on top

McCullum leads Kiwi fightback, but India on top
Indian bowlers put up a disciplined performance but managed just one wicket as New Zealand fought their way to 146 for five at tea on the third day of the second and final cricket Test, in Wellington on Sunday.

After a dominating morning session, in which they picked up three wickets giving away just 63 runs from 25.1 overs, the Indian bowlers kept up the pressure in the post lunch period with some tight bowling.

But the visitors could pick just one wicket as skipper Brendon McCullum and B.J. Watling played fighting knocks to help New Zealand add 59 runs in 29.5 overs in the post-lunch session.

The Black Caps still trail India by 100 runs with five wickets remaining.

The pitch on offer today at the Basin Reserve was a far cry from the juicy green surface of the first day and was a perfect platform for New Zealand to bridge the huge deficit after India made 438 in their first innings in reply to the hosts’ 192.

But experience pacer Zaheer Khan inflicted the early damage, picking up two wickets in the opening session to reduce New Zealand to 87 for four.

Zaheer (3/34) was the pick of the bowlers for India in the morning, but bowled only limited spells in the afternoon session.

Ishant Sharma (0/40) and Mohammad Shami (1/47) did bulk of the bowling in the post—lunch session.

But it was left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja (1-24) who turned out to be the only successful bowler for India after lunch before McCullum (44 not out, 138 balls, 4 fours) and Watling (24 runs, 96 balls, 2 fours) stitched a fighting unbeaten 52-run stand for the sixth wicket.

In a spot of bother, Corey Anderson (2) joined McCullum at the crease after lunch.

But four overs into the session, Anderson departed giving a return catch to Jadeja off his own bowling. While trying to turn a slower one from the left-arm spinner, Anderson only managed to loop the ball to offer a simple return catch to the bowler.

McCullum was then joined by Watling and the duo played cautiously to deny any further breakthrough to the Indians.

McCullum and Watling had just one plan — defend as scoring was not at all their priorities.

The duo, however, brought up their 50-run partnership in the process when Watling punched Jadeja off the backfoot to the cover boundary.

But McCullum should consider himself lucky as twice he was handed reprieve by the Indians.

First he was dropped by Virat Kohli off Shami at the personal score of nine and then Ishant put down a tough return-catch chance in the 55th over when the batsman was on 36.

Earlier starting at the overnight score of 24 for one, Kane Williamson and Hamish Rutherford’s only purpose was to bat for time and save the Test match.

But their hopes were dashed early, as in only the second over of the day Zaheer struck and removed Williamson, who gave a faint edge to India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni behind the stumps. The in-form Kiwi batsman scored only 7 runs off 22 balls.

21 years after their fathers Ken Rutherford and Rod Latham batted together for New Zealand, Hamish and Tom did so for their team, and went past the paltry 15-run stand their fathers had managed.

But their partnership too wasn’t a very fruitful one as they added just 25 runs for the third wicket as the Indians bowled with patience and kept a check on the scoring.

The duo did enough to take the score past the 50-run mark in the 16th over, but in the very next over Zaheer struck again, removing Rutherford as he nicked one to Dhoni again. He scored 35 runs off 55 balls with the help of six fours.

McCullum started slowly and was given his first life when Kohli dropped a simple catch at silly mid-on off Shami in the 29th over.

But Shami struck just at the stroke of lunch and had Latham caught behind to Dhoni. Latham made 29 runs off 64 balls with three hits to the fence.

Scoreboard:

New Zealand 1st innings: 192

India 1st innings: 438

New Zealand 2nd innings: (overnight 24-1)

Peter Fulton lbw Zaheer 1

Hamish Rutherford c Dhoni b Zaheer 35

Kane Williamson c Dhoni b Zaheer 7

Tom Latham c Dhoni b Shami 29

Brendon McCullum not out 44

Corey Anderson c&b Jadeja 2

B J Watling not out 24

Extras: (LB-1, NB-3) 4

Total: (for five wickets in 64 overs) 146

Fall of wickets: 1-1, 2-27, 3-52, 4-87, 5-94

Bowling: Ishant 15-1-40-0, Zaheer 15-7-34-3, Shami 16-0-47-1, Jadeja 18-5-24-1.

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