Zaheer gives India clear edge in third Test (Roundup)

April 4th, 2009 - 3:11 pm ICT by IANS  

Harbhajan Singh Wellington, April 4 (IANS) Zaheer Khan fashioned a New Zealand collapse with a five-wicket haul to hand India a series-clinching advantage on the second day of the third and final cricket Test at Basin Reserve here Saturday.
Zaheer (5-65) and Harbhajan Singh (3-43) sent New Zealand packing for 197 in the first innings to give India a lead of 182 runs.

At stumps, India were 51 for one in the second innings with Gautam Gambhir (28) and Rahul Dravid (9) at the crease. The lead swelled to 233 runs and with three days remaining in the match, India have all the reason to eye a historic series win in New Zealand soil after 41 years.

India lead the three-Test series 1-0 after winning the first match at Hamilton by 10 wickets and New Zealand are facing a must-win situation to level the series.

The dramatic day saw the fall of 12 wickets on a batting strip. The first wicket was that of Ishant Sharma falling to Chris Martin (4-28) as India were bowled out for 379 after adding four runs to the overnight total.

Zaheer then ran through the New Zealand top order in a flash. He used the bounce in the track and mixed his full-length deliveries with shorter ones to perfection to keep the Kiwi batsmen guessing.

Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who missed he second Test due to a sore back, played a crucial role taking six catches behind the stumps.

New Zealand were pushed on the back foot when Zaheer dismissed Martin Guptill (17). Zaheer’s sharp rising delivery crashed through Guptill’s defensive backfoot stroke in the fourth over.

The left-arm pacer was on target again in his sixth over, enticing Daniel Flynn to edge to Dhoni behind the stumps to reduce the hosts to 31 for two in the morning session.

Tim McIntosh (32) got over a difficult period to bat through till lunch while Ross Taylor (42), fresh from a strokeful 151 in the second Test at Napier, looked solid at the other end.

Zaheer came back after lunch to capture the wickets of McIntosh and second Test double centurion Jesse Ryder (3).

Off-spinner Harbhajan then picked up the important wicket of Taylor and James Franklin (15) to dash all hopes of a New Zealand fight-back. Ishant Sharma removed skipper Daniel Vettori and New Zealand were in dire straits at seven for 138.

Brendon McCullum (24) and Tim Southee (16) added 22 runs before Zaheer dismissed Southee to claim his seventh five-wicket haul.

Harbhajan got rid of dangerous McCullum and Munaf Patel took the last wicket of Iain O’Brien.

The only good news for the hosts came at the end of the day, when Taylor caught Virender Sehwag off the bowling of Martin after the dangerous opener had scored only 12 runs.

Earlier, in India’s first innings, the last pair of Ishant and Munaf consumed another 13 deliveries.

The two added 32 crucial runs for the 10th-wicket before Sharma (18) was caught by McCullum off Martin in the third over of the morning.

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