The crisis men Virat Kohli and Mahendra Singh Dhoni put on an absolutely vital 96-run partnership for the sixth wicket to hand India a brilliant win over New Zealand in the second Test at the Chinnaswamy stadium in Bangalore.
Man of the match Virat Kohli during his unbeaten 52 against New Zealand in the second innings of the second Test at the Chinnaswamy stadium
Chasing a stiff target of 261 for a 2-0 series victory, India stuttered initially, before captain cool and India's next big thing saw the hosts through.
Kohli and Dhoni had bailed India out in the first innings as well, and in the second, brought together at 166 for five, needing another 95 runs, the last recognised batting pair in the Indian line up set about achieving the target beautifully. The duo made the task look easy, mastering the test remarkably under extreme pressure.
Man of the match Kohli and Dhoni remained unconquered on 52 and 48 respectively, the former backing up a brilliant hundred in the first innings with an even more impressive half-century.
After starting their partnership on a cautious note, both batsmen brought out the expansive shots as the target started getting smaller and smaller, with Kohli smashing Southee for three fours in the penultimate over, before Dhoni finished the match off with a four and a six, in his typically swashbuckling style.
New Zealand folded up for 248 in the morning, adding 16 runs to their overnight score, with Patel the last man out -- caught behind off Zaheer Khan's bowling.
India started their chase pretty well, the opening partnership of Gautam Gambhir and Virender Sehwag putting on a fifty partnership for the first time in over 10 innings. Both Gambhir and Sehwag began with a positive intent, with runs flowing from the blades of the two openers freely.
A couple of crisp cover drives from Sehwag was immediately met by a few well-placed cut shots from his fellow Delhiite. However, the opening partnership, so crucial to a team when you are chasing a sizeable total, was broken in the 12th over with India on 77. Sehwag falling prey to some good spin bowling by Jeetan Patel for a quickfire 38 from 33 balls; getting beaten all-ends-up after stepping out to try and smash it for a six.
The Delhi dasher had already taken a six and a four in the over from Patel, but his attempt at another boundary did not materialize and the Kiwis celebrated a crucial breakthrough.
Gambhir, who looked really good and confident at the start of the innings, threw away his wicket after some good sustained pressure from the Kiwis. An outswinger from Trent Boult saw Gambhir (34) attempt a dab to third man past a packed slip cordon, but only managed to find the edge, with captain Ross Taylor gleefully accepting the gift at first slip.
The game was perfectly set up for the great man Sachin Tendulkar to see India through to a hard-fought victory. And indeed, Tendulkar looked like he was up to the occasion as well, playing a couple of trademark drives to the offside for boundaries. However, a rain interruption of about an hour seemed to throw the little master's momentum, Tendulkar falling to first innings hero Tim Southee for 27, bowled for the third-straight innings, after an in-swinger slammed into middle-stump off the little big man's pad.
Pujara, at the other end was looking really assured and composed, and looked nailed on for at least a half-century. But the Saurashtra man lost his wicket, two short of a deserved fifty after Daniel Flynn snared a brilliant catch at short leg.
Suresh Raina followed Pujara to the pavilion soon after for a duck, dancing down the track to Patel but failing to make contact with the ball, and seeing the ball crash into the stumps; a dismissal pretty similar to the one of Sehwag's, leaving India precariously placed at 166 for five, with another 95 runs needed for victory.
That left Dhoni and Kohli to knuckle down and fight their way to the target, under immense pressure; and the duo certainly did not disappoint, much to the delight of the Indian fans.
India and New Zealand will now play a two-match T20 series, before they fly to Sri Lanka for the World T20.
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