India win Test series in New Zealand after 41 years (Roundup)

April 7th, 2009 - 1:12 pm ICT by IANS  

Ross Taylor Wellington, April 7 (IANS) Rain robbed India of a deserving win in the final and the third Test here Tuesday but couldn’t stop them from winning the three-match series 1-0 on New Zealand soil after 41 long years.
At the Basin Reserve, India were just two wickets short of a win in the third Test on the fifth day. But rain stopped play 30 minutes after lunch to save New Zealand, who were struggling at 281 for eight in the second innings while chasing an improbable 617 runs to win.

India made 379 in the first innings and declared their second innings at 434 for seven. New Zealand were bowled out for 197 in the first innings. Zaheer Khan had a match haul of seven wickets including a fiver in the first innings.

Gautam Gambhir, who scored 445 runs at a staggering average of 89 in the series, was adjudged Man of the Match for his 167 in the second innings. He also scored a century in the second Test.

India won the first Test in Hamilton by 10 wickets and drew the second Test in Napier.

India’s last and only series win in New Zealand was under Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi, who led them to a 3-1 victory in 1968.

India were in sight of a historic 2-0 series win at lunch on the fifth and last day of the third and final cricket Test after New Zealand failed to work on Ross Taylor’s 107 at the Basin Reserve.

Taylor cashed in on a reprieve when he was called back after television replays reversed the decision on a close-in catch. He went on to score his second century of the series. But that was not enough to save the hosts, who were 254 for seven at lunch.

Set 617 runs to win and share the series 1-1, New Zealand dourly defied the Indian attack for well over an hour of the extended morning session to make up for the loss of time Monday because of bad light.

The home team had an eye on the clock as well as the overcast sky. The weather held out but as lunch neared, they lost three wickets, two of them to part-time leggie Sachin Tendulkar. By then Harbhajan broke the stubborn fifth-wicket stand between Taylor and James Franklin.

New Zealand, who resumed at 167 for four, looked highly unlikely to survive another two sessions for a draw unless rain saves them soon after lunch.

Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni surprisingly called Tendulkar to bowl for the first time on the tour. The master batsman, who seldom turns his arm over after a back problem, removed Brendon McCullum (6) and then James Franklin (49) after Harbhajan provided the breakthrough by bowling Taylor with a beauty.

Taylor, 69 overnight, reached his century flicking Harbhajan, the ball bisecting wicketkeeper Dhoni and Virender Sehwag at backward short leg.

Taylor’s 100, which took four and half hours, followed his 151 in the drawn second Test at Napier. He was the main contributor to the record fifth-wicket stand of 142 against India along with Franklin.

The previous best was 140, between Craig McMillan and Adam Parore at Hamilton in 1999.

McCullum had an early escape when Munaf Patel dropped him at mid-off off Tendulkar. But Tendulkar dismissed the New Zealand vice-captain for six, caught at slip by Rahul Dravid.

Tendulkar then ended Franklin’s vigil at 49 as the left-handed all-rounder was given out leg before. Franklin spent more than four hours, facing 171 balls and hitting seven fours.

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