India v New Zealand, 2nd Test, Hyderabad, 4th day November 15, 2010

'We've good chance of winning' - Laxman

ESPNcricinfo staff

The second Test in Hyderabad is poised like the first in Ahmedabad was at this stage, with one team needing to bat until a little after lunch on the final day to secure a draw. The roles, though, have been reversed and the circumstances have made it harder for the team attempting to force a win.

At Motera, India had ended the fourth day in bad shape, leading by only 110 with four wickets in hand. VVS Laxman and Harbhajan Singh fought for safety on the fifth. In Hyderabad, India are the aggressors, seeking to limit New Zealand's lead, which is presently 115, and take the six wickets that stand between them and an urgent run-chase. Failure to achieve the first goal would render thoughts about the second futile.

Laxman, a proven performer in challenging second-innings scenarios, remained hopeful that India would be able to chase a target within a reasonable degree of difficulty. "I think anything less than 200-225, even if it means we have to chase five an over," he said when asked what was within India's means. "I think with our batting line-up and the condition of the wicket, we can definitely achieve that."

The condition of the wicket, while crucial to India's chances of victory, is also one of their toughest challenges. Compared to the stereotype fourth-day surfaces around the country, this one was relatively without blemish. There wasn't much rough, the wear and tear around the bowlers' landing areas wasn't exaggerated and the bounce wasn't variable. There was bounce, though, for the spinners, but that was it. Turn was minimal.

"I think the wicket in Hyderabad is much better than the one in Ahmedabad," Laxman said. "Ahmedabad was more on the slower side. Even here it is on the slower side but the bounce is much better for the spinners. But definitely you would [expect to] see more assistance for the spinners, especially on the fourth day, which today we didn't see."

Given the conditions, Laxman said India's bowlers had done a "tremendous job" in bringing the game to the position they had. "I think we've got a good chance of winning. It will be very important how we start tomorrow's morning session. If we get two early wickets, then obviously we're into their bowlers and can put pressure."

India can take heart from their performance on the second morning, when they dismissed six New Zealand batsmen for 81 runs. The leader of that charge was Zaheer Khan, who made the first two strikes, but his fitness poses another problem India will encounter on the final day.

Zaheer left the field with an abdominal strain during his fifth over today and stayed indoors for 136 minutes. He wasn't able to bowl any more on the fourth day. The fact that he returned during the final session and spent time in the field, however, is an indication that he is likely to lead India's pursuit for wickets on Tuesday. If he couldn't bowl, it's unlikely that he would have returned at all. Zaheer spoke to umpire Kumar Dharmasena a couple of times towards the end of play, possibly asking how much more time he needed to spend on the field before he would be allowed to bowl. How fit and effective he is, though, remains to be seen because he wasn't at his canny best during his short spell today.

The New Zealand opener Tim McIntosh, who has fallen three times to Zaheer in this series, said India had missed him when the ball began to reverse. The ball is presently 75 overs old and a new one will be available to India in five overs. MS Dhoni will be hoping that a combination of reverse-swing and spin will ensure that it isn't required.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Fadzai on November 16, 2010, 8:10 GMT

    Well said Rajpan.....VVS can dream on.

  • Andrew on November 16, 2010, 6:00 GMT

    Well VVS, you may be right but its hard to win when you only select 2 bowlers - Zak & Sreesanth! Is Ojha the 2nd best spinner India has?

  • Dummy4 on November 16, 2010, 5:38 GMT

    Not a bad rear guard action for 8th Vs 1st in the rankings.

  • Dummy4 on November 16, 2010, 5:27 GMT

    We don't want Bhajji as all rounder, we need his as a genuine bowler. I think, Ashwin should play the 3rd test. If Dhoni wants to play Bhajji as all-rounder, then, Drop Raina. He will learn the difference between limited over and test cricket from the dressing room. Otherwise, we may even loose the 3rd test. Those who talk about result in 2nd test, sorry, its a DRAW.

  • Shulz Van on November 16, 2010, 5:14 GMT

    A #1 test team should have a balanced attack where there should be 2 dangerous fast bowlers one seamer and a spinner who can hold one end and take wickets as well. A strong Batting line up which i am sure India has, but so does SA, SL, Eng and Aus. And a very good fielding unit such as SA , SL and Aus.....Out of all these three departments India only has the batting...Zaheer Khan surely is an exellent bowler but see what happenend when he is not fit. Bhajji is not threatning any more. Look how Morkel bowled when Steyn is not fit and look how Botha used his brain. Steyn is the premium SA bowler but he took only 1 wicket and SA still going good. THATS HOW A #1 TEAM PLAY EVEN IN DIFFERENT CONDITIONS AWAY FROM HOME. India's batting not doing that great either. If Bhajji is the main run scorer it also tells u how the opposition bowling attack is...And that not good for the main batsmen. The short balls from Steyn and Morkel in SA pitch wont be the same ffor bhajji. NZ is whooping India...

  • Rajendra on November 16, 2010, 3:34 GMT

    India has got a fat chance of winning this test. You can't win with bowlers hitting centuries and hoping batsmen getting wickets(Raina/Sehwag/Tendulkar)!!

  • Dummy4 on November 16, 2010, 2:34 GMT

    @Nampally..It is a known and understood fact that you need to take 20 wickets to win the match. If our bowlers have done that before, they can definitely do it now. I am not defending the captaincy or bowling, but i believe that we do have resources to get 20 wickets. Credit NewZealand batsman for putting up a brave front, than jumping on Indian bowlers. This same bunch had the Aussie batsman in disarray in 3rd innings in 2 tests. The pitch is slow, being down to 3 bowlers doesnt help, and a gutso performance by NZ. Credit should be given where it is due, not taken away from Indian bowlers, who did a good job of keeping this match tight. Criticizing players, the moment we look dull, has become a pattern. The other team is here to participate not as fodder for records. If Bhajji can make an untroubled century vs Vettori, is Vettori a bad bowler. At least 4 of Bhajji's sixes came vs Vettori. It is the pitch that is getting slow.

  • Bharath on November 16, 2010, 2:02 GMT

    India cannot win this game... It is heading for a tame draw or probably New Zealand's way. India is going to struggle to chase anything over 150, that is if they get New Zealand out quickly or if Vettori decides to make it interesting by declaring. It is a classic case of inconsistent performance and complacency from the Indian team. Can't remember them crushing any of their opponents ever. With India as opponents the opposition always have a chance.

  • Dummy4 on November 15, 2010, 23:48 GMT

    hi guys bowling India always week in India has to go with 5 bowlers pathan wat happen to him wat r p singh m patel guys please india has got gud allrounder should be proud to see bhajji batting he was great but bowling he is prime bowler for us so try with chawala can be gud with his batting comes always and also ashwin DHONI has to improve is batting in tests india must go with five bolwers please

  • Francis on November 15, 2010, 23:38 GMT

    India cannot sustain their #1 status with this bowling attack. Zaheer is the only go to man and age is catching up with him. Ashwin must be brought into the squad because he IS a go to man.

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