New Zealand have taken the third and final test at Wellington into the fifth day thanks to bad light and a strange delay in declaration from MS Dhoni. The homeside got to bat for just 56 overs on a curtailed fourth day’s play in which they lost four wickets. India could have easily taken two more wickets by close of play but for a very casual approach in the final session that let the batsmen off the hook. Although the Kiwis still have plenty of work to do for a draw, they might just find a lot of help from the predicted rain and bad light.
Morning Session: New Zealand off to a bad start again
The fourth day’s play started with India still persisting in batting for an hour atleast. The entertainment factor was guaranteed with the overnight batsmen being Yuvraj Singh and MS Dhoni. The two attacking batsmen didn’t disappoint their fans at all, Yuvraj started the carnage with some banging pull shots. The fun though didn’t last long with Yuvraj yet again getting caught in the slips having made a cameo of 40 from 46 balls with 6 fours and a six. India lost one more wicket in Harbhajan Singh through a hook shot before the inevitable declaration came at the stroke of drinks. MS Dhoni quite smartly got himself an unbeaten 56 (from 83 balls with 8 fours) and India declared at 434 for 7 in 116 overs. That gave a mammoth target of 617 for the Kiwis.
Zaheer Khan ensured that India went to lunch with atleast one wicket in the bag. He got the left handed Tim McIntosh (4) nicking to Rahul Dravid in the slips. That catch saw Dravid claim his 182nd one in Tests and to break the world record held by Mark Waugh. Zaheer had to work for that wicket as it came only in the 11th over, just fours overs before lunch.
Afternoon Session: Harbhajan accelerates New Zealand’s downfall
For the second time in this match, the technically solid Daniel Flynn (10) failed to deliver the goods. The left hander was infact unlucky for the second time to have received a difficult delivery from Zaheer Khan, this time the ball came back sharply to beat his defence and hit the stumps. After a wait for about 30 minutes, India got their next wicket when Harbhajan Singh caught Martin Guptill on the backfoot to an arm ball from round the sticks. Guptill had done all the hard work by then scoring 49 from 93 balls with 4 fours and 2 sixes for his hook shots off Zaheer Khan. Guptill was replaced by the inform Jesse Ryder who defended a bouncing off break from Harbhajan before indulging in a friendly chat with the bowler. Little did he know that the clever and experienced bowler was only setting him up for something malicious. Ryder quite casually tried to get forward but it was a quick off break from Harbhajan that forced an edge to the slip. It was a 2-ball duck for the talented Ryder and the Kiwis were now in tatters at 84 for 4 in the 32nd over.
Harbhajan was in a roll having taken two wickets in a single over. He was to get one more wicket in Ross Taylor too after forcing an inside edge to short leg but as the catch looked doubtful the benefit of doubt went to the batsman. India found no further joy in the session as Taylor (batting on 48) and Franklin (batting on 18) had settled down in a decent partnership. New Zealand were in trouble though of losing the match in the final session as they went at 136 for 4 in 42 overs.
Final Session: Bad light and flat bowling defies India
The final session which was expected to see Harbhajan Singh wrap up the match had a different twist with MS Dhoni opting for the innocuous Sehwag and Munaf! The pair of Taylor and Franklin had no trouble at all whatsoever in playing out the balls before bad light as expected came to the rescue and robbing off plenty of time. New Zealand are at 167 for 4 with Taylor on 69 and Franklin on 26 at close on the fourth day.