There was a world record for Rahul Dravid and four wickets before tea but a combination of bad light and an obdurate fifth-wicket partnership held up India's victory charge at the Basin Reserve after they had set New
Zealand a target of 617. Zaheer Khan and Harbhajan Singh took two wickets
apiece and New Zealand's hopes of surviving into the final day rested
largely with Ross Taylor, who played some swashbuckling strokes on his way
to 69. He added 83 with James Franklin to rebuild the innings, and when
played was called off 21 overs early, the draw remained a viable option.
Earlier, India had batted till drinks in an extended 150-minute morning
session, adding 85 to their overnight score of 349 for 5 before Zaheer
traded bat and pads for the shiny new ball.
Martin Guptill and Taylor had taken the score to 84 when a sensational
over from Harbhajan put India in command. Bowling from round the wicket,
he got drift, bounce and sharp turn. Guptill, who had played some lovely
drives and a couple of punishing pulls for six, was one short of his
half-century when Harbhajan trapped him in front with one that turned
sharply. Two balls later, Jesse Ryder completed a poor Test by nicking one
low to Dravid at slip.
It was the third wicket that India took in the session, and as has so
often been the case in recent times it was Zaheer who did all the early
damage. He bowled 15 overs unchanged either side of lunch, and troubled
every batsmen with his pace and angle. Tim McIntosh struggled again,
before an edge to third slip shortly before lunch sparked off loud
celebrations. It was Dravid's 182nd catch, one better than Mark Waugh, and the ball received a grateful kiss once it had settled into the hands.
Daniel Flynn also didn't last long, with a bit of inward movement from
Zaheer inducing an inside-edge on to the stumps. It would have been even
worse if not for a TV referral that reprieved Taylor when he had made just
9. In real time, Taylor walked after turning a Harbhajan delivery into the
hands of Gautam Gambhir at short leg. But as he walked off, he stopped to
observe the replay on the giant screen. The umpires then decided for a
second opinion and after multiple replays, the third umpire ruled that
Gambhir had taken it on the bounce.
Taylor abandoned circumspection after that, taking Ishant Sharma for three
fours in an over when he came on to replace Zaheer, and repeating the dose
with a pull and cut for four just before the kettle was put on. The New
Zealand camp though wasn't in very bubbly mood, with Taylor and the
prospect of fifth-day rain representing their best chance of escape.
An unbeaten 56 from MS Dhoni had provided the impetus as India started the
day in a tearing hurry. Dhoni crashed Chris Martin through the covers
twice and worked another delivery behind point. And after taking a few
deliveries to get his eye in, Yuvraj Singh joined in, taking 18 from an
Iain O'Brien over. A cut behind point was followed by a neat tuck behind
square and two disdainful pulls, the second of which comfortably cleared
When Daniel Vettori brought himself on, Yuvraj swept powerfully for four,
but his statuesque footwork against pace cost him what would have been a
rapid half-century. Taylor took a smart catch at first slip after Yuvraj
flailed at a Martin delivery and three balls later, Harbhajan had joined
his Punjab team-mate in the pavilion, checking a pull to fine leg, where
Tim Southee juggled twice before holding on while lying prone.
With the wind swirling around, New Zealand then strung together some tight
overs as Dhoni twice went to change his bat. After thwacking Franklin
through the covers for four more, he reached his half-century from 77
balls, while showing little sign that the declaration was imminent. It was
left to Zaheer to swing Vettori a mile over long-on for a huge six as the
lead went past 600. After the batting frolic though, it was time to finish
the job with the ball and by tea, India were nearly halfway there. But
with the light deteriorating rapidly and Taylor and Franklin defiant, the
final session didn't quite go according to plan.