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The Report by Devashish Fuloria
February 7, 2014
India 130 for 4 (Rohit 67*, Boult 2-20) trail New Zealand 503 (McCullum 224, Williamson 113, Anderson 77, Ishant 6-134) by 373 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Brendon McCullum narrowly missed improving his best Test score, but his second double-century formed the bedrock of New Zealand's strong first-innings total after being put into bat at Eden Park. His seamers then complemented his effort by nipping out India's top order cheaply before Rohit Sharma stemmed New Zealand's progress with an attractive array of shots that fetched him a half-century. He took India past 100 without further damage until bad light brought an early end to play.
McCullum was measured instead of cavalier during a century stand with Corey Anderson, scoring only 53 out of 133, which ensured New Zealand resumed in the manner they had finished on the first day. He stepped it up after the partnership was broken.
On 192, McCullum charged the third delivery of the last over before lunch, from Ravindra Jadeja, and cleared the fielder at long-on. He then swished the last delivery through square leg to end the first session on 202. McCullum was the last man dismissed, caught on the boundary by a sure-footed Jadeja, giving Ishant Sharma his sixth wicket. Ishant had managed to take a five-wicket haul after 19 Tests, but he was expensive as New Zealand racked up 174 runs in 31.4 overs on the second day.
McCullum had resumed seven short of his 150 and reached the milestone with a well-timed straight drive in the third over. His next boundary - a whiplash cut through point off Ishant - came eight overs later. The score, though, had been boosted by a series of boundaries by Anderson.
Had India learned from the first day, they would have noted how the New Zealand batsmen had feasted on short deliveries. Their approach seemed to have changed on the second, when Zaheer Khan and Ishant started with fuller balls, drawing thick outside edges in the first few overs. The short delivery, however, made a re-appearance after only five overs and was duly dismissed with a powerful pull from Anderson. The force of the shot didn't seem to make an impression on Ishant, who repeated a bouncer in the same over only to be dismissed through square leg again.
Anderson had been circumspect at the start his innings on the first day, but the power of the batsman who owns the record for the fastest ODI century was in full show as a mis-timed drive off Ishant rocketed to the long-on boundary. Anderson racked up eight boundaries in the 31 balls he faced on the second day. The second of those - a dab through gully - brought up his second 50-plus score in Tests; the third brought up New Zealand's second consecutive century stand.
Against benign bowling, Anderson looked set for his second hundred but was cut short by a poor decision from umpire Steve Davis. He was struck above the knee roll by an Ishant delivery from round the wicket and replays indicated the ball would have missed the stumps on both line and height. The innings, and the partnership with McCullum, however, meant that New Zealand continued scoring at frenetic pace.
Bowling an extended spell, Ishant picked up his fourth wicket when he had BJ Watling caught at third slip. He used the short-ball attack again in search for his fifth only to be hooked for a couple of sixes by Tim Southee. His nine-over spell cost India 60, and Ishant returned to complete his five-for with the wicket of Ish Sodhi.
The pitch that had seemed dormant during the first innings sprang to life once New Zealand began bowling. Trent Boult overstepped off the first ball of the innings but compensated by striking twice in the opening over. Since that 187 on debut, Shikhar Dhawan had scored only 132 runs in his next six innings. His fortunes plummeted further in Auckland, where he fell for a three-ball duck. Aiming to hit Boult through midwicket, Dhawan was squared up by the seam movement and caught at gully.
Boult then made the big breakthrough with the last ball of the over, the extra delivery drawing Cheteshwar Pujara into an uncharacteristically loose drive. The batsman could only edge it to the wicketkeeper and India were 3 for 2.
Tim Southee compounded India's problems by bowling a nasty bouncer that flicked Kohli's thumb, hit the helmet and lobbed to second slip. The batsman appeared unhappy at the decision, but hot-spot and the snickometer confirmed the dismissal.
That was the ball of the day, until Neil Wagner's delivery to dismiss M Vijay. Batting with the poise he showed in South Africa, Vijay was making progress. He had hit five delightful boundaries before Wagner, bowling from round the wicket, angled the ball in and got it to straighten just enough to hit the top of off. The batsman thought he had his stumps covered, but was beaten on the outside edge.
India were 51 for 4 and had it not been for Rohit, their situation could have been worse. He made the customary slow start, scoring 1 off his first 24 deliveries, but then hit eight boundaries and a six. Three of those came in one Wagner over: a pull in front of square followed by a punch through covers and a late cut over the slip cordon. With Rahane, Rohit added 79 at more than four an over. However, with India still 174 short of the follow-on mark, they have a mountain to climb.
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Plays of the day from the fourth ODI between Australia and South Africa at the MCG