Dravid hails 'fantastic' innings
A violent last-hour surge from Harbhajan Singh gave India an 86-run advantage over New Zealand at stumps on the third day and Rahul Dravid said they would look to bat on for as long as possible on the fourth because there was a "lot of time left in the game".
India lost wickets regularly as they approached New Zealand's first-innings total of 350 but Harbhajan, who entered at 326 for 6, launched a jaw-dropping counterattack completely at odds with the nature of play in the previous five hours. He plundered 85 off the 110 runs scored while he was at the crease and is poised to reach his second century in successive Tests. At present, he has 269 runs from three innings, one short of the series' top-scorer Virender Sehwag.
"It was a fantastic innings. He has been batting brilliantly for us," Dravid said of Harbhajan. "In the last game, he played superbly to save the Test match. Today was a really good attacking innings and a really good partnership with Sreesanth, which means we are slightly ahead in the game."
When asked if India were entertaining thoughts of an overnight declaration, so that their refreshed bowlers could get stuck into New Zealand's batsmen early morning in a push for victory, Dravid said that was unlikely. He hoped that the last-wicket partnership between Harbhajan and Sreesanth could add a few more runs.
"We would like to get as many runs as we can. Hopefully, Harbhajan can go on to get another hundred," Dravid said. "Sreesanth has been batting really well and supporting him. The more runs we can put on the board, the more pressure will be on New Zealand."
The plan for India is to stretch their lead as much as possible and give New Zealand a sizeable deficit to erase. Dravid wasn't worried out of running out of time to take 10 wickets and then pursue a target.
"I think there is a lot of time left in the game," he said. "Specially in India, we know that on the fourth and fifth days, the game starts moving very quickly. A lot starts happening on Indian wickets on the fourth and fifth day.
"If we can get a few early wickets, then we can put them under pressure. Batting does get more difficult as the game goes on. We are hoping that there will be some bounce and turn tomorrow."