New Zealand v India, 3rd Test, Wellington, 5th day

Rain forces draw but India take series

The Report by Dileep Premachandran

April 7, 2009

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India 379 (Tendulkar 62, Harbhajan 60, Dhoni 52, Martin 4-98) and 434 for 7 dec (Gambhir 167, Laxman 61, Dravid 60, Dhoni 56*) drew with New Zealand 197 (Zaheer 5-65) and 281 for 8 (Taylor 107, Harbhajan 4-59)
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
How they were out


Sachin Tendulkar is congratulated by his team-mates on removing James Franklin, New Zealand v India, 3rd Test, Wellington, 5th day, April 7, 2009
Sachin Tendulkar took two wickets shortly before lunch to give New Zealand a scare © Getty Images
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The Wellington weather and a Ross Taylor century defied India as the third Test ended in a draw with New Zealand eight wickets down. Zaheer Khan had bowled just one delivery with the second new ball when the rain forced the players off the field 20 minutes after lunch, and they wouldn't return. India were left to reflect on three dropped catches, while New Zealand might have argued that they were due a bit of luck after two decisions went against them. The draw might have been an unsatisfactory result, but it still sealed a first Indian series win in New Zealand in 41 years.

They could have won it even before the heavens opened though. Tim Southee was given out caught behind off Harbhajan Singh, though the noise that got all the close-in fielders excited was actually bat hitting pad. Moments later, it was New Zealand that were the beneficiaries of umpiring largesse. Harbhajan turned one sharply and Daniel Vettori was palpably plumb, but Simon Taufel thought otherwise.

When Ishant Sharma then grassed a simple chance at square leg after Iain O'Brien had slogged Tendulkar, the Indians might have known it wasn't to be their day. Soon after, Zaheer came on and so did the rain. And that was that.

The story of the morning had been Sachin Tendulkar. It had taken MS Dhoni 76 overs to give the ball to him, but two wickets shortly before lunch in an extended morning session put the smiles back on Indian faces after a 142-run partnership between Taylor and James Franklin had kept them at bay. New Zealand were also left to ponder a poor decision against Brendon McCullum as their struggle for survival was compromised in a crazy passage of play just before the interval.

Zaheer had an early shout for leg-before against Franklin turned down, but the theme of the first hour was stout resistance. Taylor continued to feast on short and wide offerings from Ishant, and the Indian mood didn't improve when Gautam Gambhir failed to hold on to a chance at short leg after Franklin had popped one up off bad and pad. New Zealand added 38 before the drinks break, and soon after an airy flick down to fine leg off Harbhajan got Taylor to his century from just 158 balls.

Tendulkar was introduced soon after, but the frustration continued as Franklin edged one past slip for four. And it was left to the frontline spinner to strike, though relying on drift rather than turn to get the job done. Taylor's attempt to push the ball away was stymied by the movement through the air and Harbhajan's celebrations were certainly not muted as he yorked the key obstacle in India's path.

Soon after, Munaf Patel put down McCullum at mid-off off Tendulkar, but the second chance didn't go a long way. A ripping leg break spun past the bat and through to slip via Dhoni's gloves, but the impact of bat on the ground fooled the umpire into upholding India's appeal. And if that was a serious blow to New Zealand's hopes, worse was to follow, as Franklin who had eased his way to 49 was trapped in front by another delivery that turned sharply into him. As at Adelaide five years earlier, Tendulkar had compensated for an average performance with the bat by turning into the man with the golden arm. But even he could do nothing about the weather.

Dileep Premachandran is an associate editor at Cricinfo

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Dileep Premachandran Associate editor Dileep Premachandran gave up the joys of studying thermodynamics and strength of materials with a view to following in the footsteps of his literary heroes. Instead, he wound up at the Free Press Journal in Mumbai, writing on sport and politics before Gentleman gave him a column called Replay. A move to MyIndia.com followed, where he teamed up with Sambit Bal, and he arrived at ESPNCricinfo after having also worked for Cricket Talk and total-cricket.com. Sunil Gavaskar and Greg Chappell were his early cricketing heroes, though attempts to emulate their silken touch had hideous results. He considers himself obscenely fortunate to have watched live the two greatest comebacks in sporting history - India against invincible Australia at the Eden Gardens in 2001, and Liverpool's inc-RED-ible resurrection in the 2005 Champions' League final. He lives in Bangalore with his wife, who remains astonishingly tolerant of his sporting obsessions.
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