Shikhar Dhawan and Cheteshwar Pujara guided India to 87 for one to leave the first Test against New Zealand delicately poised at the end of an action packed third day after their bowlers had given them a faint sniff of victory.
India had been bowled out for 202 before lunch, but not asked to follow-on before their bowlers dismissed New Zealand for 105 in their second-innings, giving India’s batsmen a victory target of 407 runs.
Tim Southee claimed the only wicket to fall in India’s second-innings when Murali Vijay (13) got a faint touch to a leg-side delivery and wicketkeeper BJ Watling held a diving catch to reduce the visitors to 36 for one.
Dhawan settled down to finish the day on 49 not out while Pujara was on 22 with India needing a further 320 runs in two days to complete a remarkable victory.
“Bit of a bittersweet day,” New Zealand pace-bowler Neil Wagner told Radio Sport.
“It started off really well but it wasn’t as ideal as we wanted. But I think we’re pretty happy at this stage. There’s still a lot of cricket to play.”
The ball dominated the bat on Saturday with the drop-in pitch offering seamers both swing and lateral movement.
New Zealand had taken six wickets for 72 runs to bowl India before lunch but Captain Brendon McCullum did not enforce the follow-on.
However, the visitors’ bowlers learned from their New Zealand counterparts and bowled a much fuller length.
Mohammed Shami took three wickets to reduce the hosts to 25 for five shortly after lunch before Ross Taylor and Watling provided some resistance.
Ishant Sharma then captured three wickets to mop up the innings early in the final session.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 9th, 2014.