Zaheer, Harbhajan rip through New Zealand top-order (Tea Report)

April 4th, 2009 - 10:51 am ICT by IANS  

Harbhajan Singh Wellington, April 4 (IANS) Zaheer Khan ripped through the New Zealand top order to leave them struggling at 140 for seven in the first innings at tea, in reply to India’s 379, on the second day of the third cricket Test at the Basin Reserve here Saturday.
Brendon McCullum was batting on seven and Tim Southee one when the umpires called for the tea break. Zaheer picked up four while Harbhajan Singh got two to leave the New Zealander’s trailing by 239 runs in a must win Test for the hosts. India lead the series 1-0.

Earlier, India’s last pair Ishant Sharma and Munaf Patel consumed another 13 deliveries and four more runs to their overnight 375. The two added 32 crucial runs for the 10th-wicket before Sharma (18) was caught by McCullum off Chris Martin in the third over of the morning, giving the wicketkeeper his fourth catch of the innings and leaving Munaf 15 not out. Martin was the most successful bowler with figures of four for 98 from 25.1 overs.

While chasing New Zealand were pushed on the back foot when Zaheer dismissed Martin Guptill, playing on for 17, and then had Daniel Flynn caught by wicketkeeper Mahendra Singh Dhoni for two to reduce the hosts to 31 for two in the morning session.

Zaheer struck in his fourth and the seventh over of the innings as Guptill’s defensive backfoot stroke to a sharp short-pitched delivery saw the ball crashing into the stumps.

Zaheer was on target again in his sixth over, enticing Flynn to edge to Mahendra Singh Dhoni behind the stumps. McIntosh got over a difficult period to bat through till lunch while Taylor, fresh from a strokeful 151 in the Napier Test, looked solid at the other end.

In the post lunch session, Zaheer came back to capture the wickets of Tim McIntosh (32) and Jesse Ryder (3) to destroy New Zealand’s top order.

Off-spinner Harbhajan then picked up the important wicket of second Test centurion Ross Taylor (42) and James Franklin (15) to dash all hopes of New Zealand’s fight-back.

India lead the three-Test series 1-0 after winning the first match at Hamilton by 10 wickets and are looking to win their first series here in 41 years.

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