New Zealand v India, 1st Test, Auckland, 3rd day February 8, 2014

New Zealand lose ground but stay ahead


India 202 (Rohit 72, Wagner 4-64, Southee 3-38, Boult 3-38) and 87 for 1 (Dhawan 49*) trail New Zealand 503 and 105 (Taylor 41, Ishant 3-28, Shami 3-37) by 319 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Martin Crowe: NZ should have enforced follow-on

MS Dhoni spoke to his team-mates in a huddle before India took the field 35 minutes before lunch. They had lost their last six wickets for 72 runs on the third morning and handed New Zealand a 301-run lead in the first innings. A deficit of such magnitude is hard to overcome. Whatever was said, India not only found the inspiration to produce a dramatically improved bowling effort and reduce New Zealand to 15 for 4 by lunch, they also sustained their intensity for the rest of the day to dismiss the hosts for 105 and then produce a vastly superior batting effort in the chase.

India need another 320 runs to win the Test with nine wickets in hand. With two days remaining, time is not an issue, but the task ahead is gargantuan. To win, India would have to better their highest chase by one run. They will have to pull off the third highest successful chase in Tests. No team has chased more than 348 to win in New Zealand, but India have already knocked 87 off their target.

New Zealand will wonder how they allowed India even a sniff at a remotely achieveable target after the third day had begun so beautifully for them. On a humid morning after overnight rain had juiced up the pitch, their fast bowlers ripped through India. Brendon McCullum did not enforce the follow-on, though, and New Zealand's day was about to take a ghastly turn.

Mohammed Shami exacerbated the hosts' recent first-wicket problems. Hamish Rutherford was lbw in the first over, and in the third Peter Fulton drove a full ball straight to Ravindra Jadeja at cover. Kane Williamson had not fallen for less than 50 on India's tour so far, but today Jadeja cut him short on 3 with an acrobatic catch - diving full length to his right - at short midwicket.

Brendon McCullum was dropped by M Vijay at first slip in the last over before lunch, but three balls later Jadeja, electric and seemingly everywhere in the field, ensured the mistake did not cost India. His throw from square leg caught McCullum short on the second run and Ishant Sharma had the presence of mind to rush in and collect on the half-volley. New Zealand went to lunch shell-shocked.

Their prospects of revival diminished early in the second session when Shami, bowling from round the wicket, skidded a quick delivery into Corey Anderson and hit the top of leg stump. It was Shami's third wicket of the day in a 10-over spell spread either side of lunch.

There was no let-up for New Zealand because Ishant started with three maidens in a row and stuck to a good length. Luckily for Ross Taylor and BJ Watling, a number of edges fell short of the cordon. They added 38 runs at slow pace with Taylor doing the bulk of the scoring. But Zaheer Khan, bowling with increased intensity, provided the breakthrough, picking up the wicket of Taylor.

At 80 for 9, New Zealand were in danger of folding for their lowest total against India but a 25-run stand for the last wicket - the second best of the innings - took them past 100. They were eventually dismissed in the 42nd over, for 105, with the Indian quicks taking eight wickets for 88.

New Zealand were still in control of the Test, though, due to the performance of their pace attack. Trent Boult and Tim Southee had warmed up with maiden overs and struck early in the day. Ajinkya Rahane pushed at an outswinger in Southee's third over to be caught at first slip, and six balls later Rohit Sharma had a loose poke at a Boult inswinger that splayed the stumps off the inside edge. The batsmen on whom India had pinned their hopes were removed on the same score after an 87-run stand.

India, trailing by 365, were down to their last recognised batting pair of MS Dhoni and Jadeja. They didn't have a comfortable stay against the moving ball and were repeatedly beaten. In 13 overs from Boult and Southee, India could manage only 28 for 2.

Once Southee and Boult finished their spells, Neil Wagner maintained the same intensity and picked up three of the last four wickets. The tail could only add 35 runs after Dhoni's dismissal and India were bowled out for 202, 45 minutes before lunch.

New Zealand's fast bowlers did not get much rest, though, because they were dismissed in such a hurry that India began their chase 50 minutes after tea. Shikhar Dhawan, who has endured a torrid time in Tests since his debut, had easier batting conditions but was lucky to survive an early chance. In the second over, he played an aerial drive that was momentarily caught by a diving McCullum at cover before the ball popped out as the fielder's elbow hit the ground.

India lost Vijay, caught behind down the leg side, but Dhawan and Cheteshwar Pujara played out the day. Dhawan was unbeaten on 49, his highest score outside India, and the result of this Test will hinge on how he and the rest of India's top order cope with early morning conditions on the fourth day.

Devashish Fuloria is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Zain on February 9, 2014, 14:25 GMT

    Haha, Yeah, Defended 400? Maybe, but that isn't Gonna happen everyday, so, Yeah just try and get Ready for yet another loss.

  • Cricketing on February 9, 2014, 0:32 GMT

    This is really poor play by BB MCCULLUM. Sure he scored 224 runs, but hes done a lot to nullify this innings. I believe his mistakes have actually left his contribution to this game 0 runs. Firstly, he dropped and regulation catch of shikhar dwawan on 1, so far this has costed 80 runs (and surely more to come). In addition to this there is his not following on blunder, i know people are going to say "easy to criticize after the fact" but here is the problem, choosing to bat gave India a window to get back into this game. Because if india was forced to bat again even if they bat perfectly, the best they could hope for was a 200 run lead. I don't believe New Zealand would have collapsed like this chasing. The conditions were very humid and a lot of movement on day 3, as you can see now it has died down as Mccullum should have seen coming. Most importantly making India bat again would have been kicking them while they were down and EVEN if they did well india would still be in a bad spot

  • Aniket on February 9, 2014, 0:26 GMT

    Posted by mzm149 on (February 8, 2014, 20:08 GMT): "@saminincolumbia: I hope they don't emulate India here by failing to defend 400 runs in 4th innings...."

    Umm.. India DID defend 400 runs. SA didn't win that match...did you watch a different game??

  • Aniket on February 9, 2014, 0:21 GMT

    @jb633: Yes there's no denying it. Ishant did bowl well. Particularly in the second innings he applied pressure with some tight bowling. But he's almost consistently inconsistent. So he has do this more often to justify a permanent place in the lineup. Shami has been a great find but I just hope India don't bowl him into ground. We currently have a good selection of bowlers who are waiting to get their chance. Wish India rotate them according to conditions and develop a good attack. We are still waiting for our own Ben Stokes type of players though...I was mightily impressed by him during the Ashes. That guy has talent and flair

  • Dummy4 on February 9, 2014, 0:10 GMT

    Its looking like the pedestrian NZ attack is showing it true colors since the swing conditions are not there anymore and pitch still playing true. Indian batsmen are very skillful and if they apply themselves like in this first session NZ will be on the ropes. NZ shoulders are drooping, their attack is getting tired so India appears to have a slightly upper hand now (55/45). Mc's not enforcing the follow on is looking to be more like a blunder now. This is cricket.

  • James on February 9, 2014, 0:10 GMT

    This is going to go down as one of the dumbest decisions ever in the history of test cricket. With perfect bowling conditions and the bowlers relatively fresh, there was no reason not to force the follow on. All it did was give India a chance - and they had no chance if the follow on had been made. Dumb, dumb, dumb. How can you lose a test match with a 300 run first innings lead? Only the kiwis could pull that one off. I know they haven't lost yet, but the fact that they have handed the ascendency back to India is beyond belief.

  • Android on February 9, 2014, 0:09 GMT

    kohli u beauty!

  • ESPN on February 8, 2014, 23:40 GMT

    A bad decision by McCullum in hindsight, but his batsmen let him down. Another 100 runs and NZ would have had a big psychological edge and fresher, rested bowlers going into the 4th innings.

  • Android on February 8, 2014, 23:22 GMT

    kiwis underestimated Indian team basing on their previous performdances.. Indian team came out really good and outclassed kiwis. go india!

  • uncle bob on February 8, 2014, 23:03 GMT

    Some of the Indian fans appear very disappointed as India doing good at the moment. I guess they are sensing a lost opportunity to criticize Dhoni and Ishant sharma.