India vs New Zealand 1st Test, Day 3 Score: Wickets Galore as Bowlers Give Visitors a Real Chance Against Kiwis
By Deepak Vikraman | February 8, 2014 4:49 PM EST
On Day 3 of the first Test against New Zealand, the bowlers reawakened the ghosts of this-is-freaking-awesome-bowling past, to resurrect India's chances of pulling off an incredible win in Auckland.
Day one and Day two belonged solely to New Zealand, and it looked like it would be the same on the third day as well, as the Kiwi bowlers comfortably knocked out the final six Indian wickets to build a massive 301-run lead as the away side tumbled to 202 all out.
The follow on was not enforced, with New Zealand targeting a few quickfire runs to set a this-you-cannot-reach-no-matter-what target in the final innings - that was the plan anyway.
What happened was entirely different, though, as the Indian pacers - yes, no typo there - ran through the Kiwi batsmen like butter on a hot knife to bowl the home side out for a mere 105 in just 41.2 overs.
An impossibly large target was quickly whittled down to a maybe-we-can-do-this target of 407 runs, with India finishing the day on 87 for one in 25 overs, needing another 320 runs for victory.
Shikhar Dhawan (49, 70b, 5x4) and Cheteshwar Pujara (22, 61b, 1x4, 1x6) are batting, with Murali Vijay the only man dismissed for 13 - caught down the leg side off Tim Southee.
It was unbelievable stuff from over one of the New Zealand second innings, with the Indian bowlers finding rhythm, menace and pace that no-one believed existed.
Mohammed Shami (three for 37) was the first to get into the act, firing one into the pads of Hamish Rutherford, who failed to connect with his bat and looked up to see the umpire raising that dreaded finger for an lbw.
Zaheer Khan (two for 23) kept it tight in the second over, and the sustained pressure told when Shami had his second victim - New Zealand's other opener Peter Fulton, who lobbed a catch straight to Ravindra Jadeja at short cover.
India kept the noose as tight as possible, sensing a major opening here, and they were rewarded with the wicket of the man who has tormented, tortured, and brought the bowlers to near tears on this tour.
Kane Williamson, for the first time in seven innings, failed to cross 50, with Zaheer Khan inducing a false shot from the previously impregnable right-hander, who managed just three runs this time around.
India's and Murali Vijay's catching woes continued, but there was a different feeling in that Indian camp at that moment, highlighted by the brilliant Jadeja-Ishant combined run out to dismiss first innings double hundred man Brendon McCullum.
Ross Taylor (41, 73b, 4x4, 1x6) was the only Kiwi batsman to make any score of note, but batsmen were falling like snow during an avalanche at the other end, with Shami picking up his third wicket of the innings by dismissing the dangerous Corey Anderson, with the score at 25 for five.
Wicketkeeper BJ Watling hung in there with Taylor for some time, before the latter was sent packing by Zaheer, thanks to a brilliant catch from Ajinkya Rahane. That left New Zealand at 63 for six, and with the bowlers' tails pointing straight to the north pole, it was only a matter of time before the final four wickets came their way, with Ishant Sharma (three for 28), deservedly, picking up three of those.
Earlier, India did not bother too much to put as many runs as possible on the board, with Rohit Sharma and Ajinkya Rahane playing two poor shots and throwing their wickets away.
Rahane (26, 70b, 2x4) pushed at a wide delivery from Southee and only managed to nick it to Taylor at first slip, with Rohit (72, 120b, 8x4, 1x6), clearly not learning from Rahane's mistake, also going for a drive outside off stump, but only finding the inside edge of his bat with the ball then deciding to crash onto the stumps.
Dhoni's indifferent form away from home continued, with the skipper, after living dangerously, edging one to wicketkeeper Watling off Wagner for just 10 runs from 28 deliveries.
Jadeja (30, 44b, 2x4, 1x6), at least, showed some fight with the bat, but with no real batsmen for company at the other end, the New Zealand bowlers finished off the tail easily enough to leave India staring at a massive deficit of 301 runs.
That deficit looked like the end of India's chances to come away with even a draw in the Test match, but courtesy a splendid bowling performance, the door has been opened slightly - it is still advantage New Zealand, but if India show some application and bat well, anything is possible.
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