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The Report by Sharda Ugra
September 2, 2012
New Zealand 365 and 232 for 9 (Franklin 41, Ashwin 5-69) lead India 353 (Kohli 103, Dhoni 62, Southee 7-64) by 244 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
A teetering third day had the second Test in Bangalore turn into a second innings shoot-out. As it stands at stumps on day three, New Zealand are 232 for 9, with a lead of 244 and a single wicket remaining for them before India can launch themselves into their target.
It must be remembered though that, while the Indians did record the highest successful chase at the Chinnaswamy Stadium during the last Test held here in 2010, that target against Australia was merely 207.
A clatter of wickets in the last hour of play, after a 55-run sixth partnership, meant that New Zealand lost nine wickets over the course of two sessions, their highest scorer being James Franklin (41). It was the fall of his wicket with less than half an hour remaining, to an extravagant stride down the wicket to an R Ashwin off break, that set in motion the New Zealand lower order slide.
It gave Ashwin his third five-for in four innings in the series so far. His 5 for 69 has continued to build his reputation as a wicket-taker, partnership breaker and tail demolisher in home Tests.
The Bangalore wicket did not offer the extravagant turn sought by MS Dhoni due to what he called the labours of Hyderabad. Neither was it a disintegrating surface or one offering uneven bounce on the third day. Yet, 14 wickets fell in what was undeniably a bowler's day. What started with Tim Southee's 7 for 64, ensuring that India lost its last five wickets for 52 runs, ended with New Zealand's collapse, backed by the trickery of quality spin as well as poor strokes and bad timing.
The lower order has kept both teams in the game so far; if the five remaining India batsmen have 52 runs to their credit this morning, it was largely because of a handy tenth-wicket partnership of 33 between Ashwin and Umesh Yadav. Add those runs to the New Zealand lead and it would end up as daunting. If New Zealand could push their lead ahead past the 200 mark it came about because of a half-century stand between Franklin and Kruger van Wyk for the sixth wicket for over an hour after tea. Take that away - along with Doug Bracewell's 22 - from the New Zealand total and India would consider themselves favourites to win on Monday.
In the last hour of play, the Franklin-van Wyk partnership came to an end in Ashwin's second spell after tea. Ashwin had removed Flynn in his third over after tea, and had van Wyk leg before with one that sneaked past his bat and hit him low on the pad.
It was the dismissal of Franklin though that may have critically reduced the fourth-innings target, because even at seven down, the batsmen looked in control. The close of play was not so far away, Bracewell was proving good company, and the lead had climbed past 225. A rush of blood was to end Franklin's two-hour long vigil. He charged out to Ashwin, missed the ball completely and was stumped for 41. New Zealand were to lose three wickets for six runs.
Southee's morning spell had given New Zealand a chance to take control of the Test. All that their batsmen had to do was to come close to replicating their first innings performance. Instead, the top three could manage only 69 runs between them. The openers, who had added 30, were out to Umesh Yadav just after lunch, Guptill going for a somewhat flashy, rather lazy shot on the first ball he faced after lunch and edging it to the leg stump. Yadav opened his next over by getting Brendon McCullum caught behind; Kane Williamson went after the drinks break - nicking to slip - and Taylor before tea, dismissed exactly like in the first innings - leg before trying to sweep Pragyan Ojha.
The drama of the morning, however, had Southee pressing on with a nine-over spell that had him take four of the last five Indian wickets. The new ball swung, and four wickets fell in three successive Southee overs. These included the wickets of Virat Kohli and Dhoni, both leg before, misreading the ball coming into them. Television replays showed that a disguised scrambled seam could have led Kohli to pad up, not offering a shot. Dhoni was out to a similar delivery, trying to hit the ball onto the on side. Southee then removed Zaheer Khan and Pragyan Ojha in one over, before a stubborn tenth-wicket partnership clipped New Zealand's lead to 12.
The match goes into its fourth day with the knowledge that one team is going to be left cursing its lack of runs.
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