2nd Test

India v New Zealand, 2012

Dileep Premachandran

At Bangalore, August 31-September 3, 2012. India won by five wickets.
Toss: New Zealand.


Tim Southee bowled Sachin Tendulkar, India v New Zealand, 2nd Test, Bangalore, 4th day, September 3, 2012
Tim Southee's 7 for 64 were the best figures by a New Zealand bowler in India © Associated Press
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After New Zealand's collapse at Hyderabad, where they struggled to match Pujara's 159 in either innings, this was expected to be another Indian procession. That it didn't turn out that way owed much to a tremendous counter-attacking hundred from Taylor, and a superb spell of swing and seam bowling from Southee. The result was no different, though, with Kohli continuing his excellent form, and the spin twins - Ashwin and Ojha - chipping away at New Zealand's resistance. But it needed India's fifth-highest successful run-chase to secure the win, and Taylor was left to rue the absence of a spinner capable of doing more damage than Patel, who took three wickets without ever really giving India the shivers.

In the First Test, New Zealand's batting had been meek and indecisive, with few attempts to upset the spinners' rhythm. Here they opted for Plan B. Dhoni opened the bowling with Ojha but, after some early alarms and the loss of McCullum to Zaheer Khan, the runs came rather more easily. Guptill set the tone with a stroke-filled half-century, before a miscue to midwicket once again trained attention on his poor conversion-rate - in his 26th Test, he had now turned only two of his 14 fifties into hundreds.

Taylor, a crowd favourite after three seasons with Bangalore's Royal Challengers in the IPL, made his intentions clear from the start. The sweep and other cleaves across the line fetched him seven fours off Ojha, and there were also some lovely strokes through cover and straight down the ground. Taylor was not exactly twinkle-toed, and didn't always get to the pitch of the ball, but few scoring opportunities were missed as a barrage of shots left the Indians perplexed.

Emboldened by his captain's methods, Flynn joined in. The session between lunch and tea produced 132 runs, and even the departure of Taylor - who had made 85 of them - shortly after the interval, as he tried to sweep a straight one, didn't staunch the flow. A partnership of 99 between van Wyk and Bracewell, who hit out crisply, allowed New Zealand to reach 365.

India's reply floundered against Southee, who had replaced Chris Martin in the side. Gambhir, in his 50th Test, went cheaply once more, Pujara also failed, and Sehwag squandered another start. When Tendulkar was bowled again, India were staring at embarrassment. But Raina took his cue from Taylor and went for his shots. With Kohli classy and resolute, India gradually redressed the balance. Raina finally departed, tickling one down the leg side, but Kohli's wonderfully paced hundred and bright contributions from Dhoni and Ashwin got India to within 12. Southee's reward was seven for 64, the best figures for New Zealand in India, beating Dion Nash's six for 27 at Mohali in 1999-2000.

On a pitch that never really deteriorated, New Zealand needed to make around 300 to test India. Eight batsmen reached double figures, but the highest score was Franklin's 41; Yadav hit van Wyk on the helmet and, next ball, broke his forearm, but he battled on for another six overs regardless (McCullum kept wicket in the second innings). After Ojha had starred in the first innings, it was now Ashwin's turn to dismantle the middle order following Yadav's early strikes. India were eventually set 261, and were given a solid base by their openers, before both fell in quick succession. Pujara and Tendulkar rebuilt, only for three quick wickets to give New Zealand a whiff of victory: Tendulkar was bowled yet again - his frustration apparent as he briefly threatened to smash the stumps; Pujara was caught at bat-pad; then Raina harmed his future prospects with a headless-chicken charge.

With 95 still to get, coolness was needed. Kohli took the lead, batting as Dravid and Laxman often did in such situations, and found an unflappable ally in Dhoni, who combined the dead bat and the heavy one to great effect: his second six clinched the series towards the end of the fourth day.

Man of the Match: V. Kohli. Man of the Series: R. Ashwin. Close of play: first day, New Zealand 328-6 (van Wyk 63, Bracewell 30); second day, India 283-5 (Kohli 93, Dhoni 46); third day, New Zealand 232-9 (Patel 10, Boult 0).

© John Wisden & Co.