Inept batting by India’s much-vaunted line-up left them with the Herculean task of saving the second cricket Test which looks heavily tilted in New Zealand’s favour after the third day’s play in Napier on Saturday.
Resuming at 79 for three,India’s hopes of batting their way into the match depended largely on Sachin Tendulkar (49),Rahul Dravid (83) and VVS Laxman (76) but none of the stalwarts could hang around long enough as their first essay folded for 305,thus incurring follow on.
With a healthy 314-run first innings lead and a hungry pace battery operating with the new ball at his disposal,Kiwi captain Daniel Vettori had little hesitation in inflicting follow on and India dug themselves deeper in the hole losing stand-in captain Virender Sehwag (22) to finish day three on 47 for one in their second essay.
Gautam Gambhir (14) and Rahul Dravid (11) were in the middle at stumps with India still trailing the hosts by 267 runs and risking a rout that would level the series 1-1.
With two full days left,India’s chance of winning the match and sealing the series here itself lay in tatters,while New Zealand remain firmly on course to restore parity in the three-match series.
India vs New Zealand Live Scorecard
India’s fallibility against the moving ball came to the fore again as New Zealand,riding on a joint five-wicket burst by Chris Martin (3/89) and Iain O’Brien (2/66) bowled them out for 305 and enforced the follow-on.
The second new ball sounded India’s death knell as Yuvraj Singh (0),Dinesh Karthik (6),Laxman,Harbhajan Singh (18) and Zaheer Khan (8) fell in a heap with the visitors losing their last five wickets in 62 balls.
The startling Indian exodus could possibly be attributed to Dravid,who though made an imperious 83. India had just recovered from Tendulkar’s fall and had sauntered to 246 for four when Dravid chased a wide Jesse Ryder delivery to be snaffled behind the wicket by Brendon McCullum.
Vettori,a smart leader that he has been,soon summoned the new ball,which the Indian lower half failed to counter. Laxman,who notched his 38th Test half century,was the tourists’ last hope but he too wafted his willow at a Martin delivery which left him late,to be snared at second slip by Tim McIntosh.
Earlier resuming at their overnight 79 for three,Indian seemed to be in fine fettle as Dravid and Tendulkar met the cherry with the meat of their bat. Their elegance at the crease and crisp stroke play belied what was to come in the latter part of the day.
The Mumbaikar was on top of his game,executing some exquisite strokes on the up,a couple of square drives coming straight out of the Tendulkar stable. He had asserted himself at the square by taking 14 runs,including a six over mid-wicket,off Jeetan Patel but paid the price when he tried to work the off-spinner to third man,the ball flying to Ross Taylor at first slip.
His 49 was interspersed with seven other hits to the pickets.
India were still unperturbed as long as Dravid and Laxman were at the crease,even harbouring hopes of a great resurgence which these accomplished batsmen have orchestrated against Australia at Kolkata (2001) and Adelaide (2003).
But the moment ‘The Wall’ collapsed,it was a door way to heaven for the Kiwis. Martin was sharp and accurate,finding the outside of Yuvraj,Karthik and Laxman’s blades to take his Test tally to 152 sticks in his 47th match. O’Brien picked up the scalps of Harbhajan and Zaheer to hasten the Indians to their doom.