India close to victory in Hamilton Test (Tea report)

March 21st, 2009 - 10:12 am ICT by IANS  

Harbhajan Singh Hamilton, March 21 (IANS) India moved closer to victory as they reduced New Zealand to 216 for eight in their second innings on the fourth day of the first cricket Test at Seddon Park here Saturday.
New Zealand need 25 runs to make India bat again. Brendon McCullum (30) and Iaian’o Brien (5) were at the crease when tea was taken.

The Kiwis lost three quick wickets after lunch, all taken by Harbhajan Singh (5-45).

New Zealand lost the wicket of James Franklin (14) immediately after lunch. Daniel Flynn, the only Kiwi batsman to show some resistance was the next to go, scoring 67 off 183 balls.

Harbhajan then removed skipper Daniel Vettori (21) caught behind.

Earlier, India grabbed the wickets of two attacking batsmen Ross Taylor for four and Jesse Ryder 21 before lunch. They should have consumed Flynn, too, had Dhoni not muffed a caught-behind chance off Harbhajan when the batsman was on 55.

Munaf Patel and Harbhajan claimed a wicket each, but overall the Indian attack was more purposeful with Zaheer Khan and Ishant Sharma doing their bit as hosts struggled to score 71 runs off 26 overs in the session.

Flynn began the day on a dashing note, cutting and pulling Zaheer for fours. He then forced Munaf past point for two more and drove Ishant through the covers for another to get to his fifty off 118 balls.

New Zealand, who needed 42 overs to see the hundred on the board, lost Taylor, slashing Munaf straight to Virender Sehwag at point.

Ryder came to the crease with a positive intent and his first scoring stroke could have ended up as a catch to Harbhajan in the covers. He continued in the same vein to pull Zaheer for a four and a six.

The first-innings century-maker was beaten on the defence by a beauty from Harbhajan and it was an easy legbefore decision for umpire Simon Taufel, the ball striking the back leg.

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