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Harbhajan spins India to elusive Test win in NZ

Related Links : New Zealand Vs India, 1st Test Scorecard | India in New Zealand 2008/09

Harbhajan Singh unleashed his full repertoire to spin India to an elusive Test win in the 1st Test at Seddon Park in Hamilton. India’s last win in a Test Match in New Zealand was 33 years ago! MS Dhoni’s men showed how simple it was to beat New Zealand as they did in this Test Match with a 10-wicket win inside four days. The New Zealanders who have got a very inexperienced side was not that competent to their counterparts.

Morning Session: India takes two important wickets

New Zealand resumed this morning at 75 for 3 with Daniel Flynn on 24 and new batsman Ross Taylor yet to face a single ball. India’s success came before the first drinks break itself when Ross Taylor tried to play a smart back cut off Munaf Patel which was rather smartly taken by Virender Sehwag at gully. Taylor troubled the Indians with just a 30-ball stay. The bowlers then had to deal with first innings centurion Jesse Ryder who joined the technically and temperamentally sound Daniel Flynn. Ryder had an indifferent start this time against the perseverance of Harbhajan Singh on the fourth day track and he lost the battle without any fight. Ryder was beaten in the air and his uncertain footwork to an off break that drifted in and turned away sharply caught him on the backpad for an lbw. He scored 21 from 27 balls with 2 fours and a six from a pull shot off Zaheer Khan. India was satisfied at lunch having got the Kiwis at 146 for 5 in 57 overs.

Afternoon Session: India on brink of an innings victory

Harbhajan Singh picked up James Franklin minutes after Tea having lured the left hander into an expansive drive to present an easy catch at point. In quick succession, the off spinner broke the resistance from the stubborn Flynn with a doosra. Flynn was playing for the off break from over the sticks and the result was a perfect bat pad catch at short leg. The left hander made a good account of himself though with an industrious knock of 67 from 183 balls (with 10 fours). A few overs later, Harbhajan Singh got the most important wicket of Daniel Vettori by forcing him in the crease and cramping him up to get an inside edge that was snapped up behind the wickets. Interestingly Vettori was also caught off the inside edge by the keeper in an attempted flick shot in the first innings. The Kiwi Captain lasted 41 balls in which he scored 21 runs quite confidently.

By Tea, India were almost there having got NZ at 216 for 8 in 85 overs with 25 runs needed by the homeside to avoid an innings victory. Brendon McCullum was left with no.10 and no.11 and he was very lucky to have survived early on in his innings.

Final Session: India fails to inflict innings defeat

India’s plans of not attacking Brendon McCullum backfired completely and the result was an annoying 9th wicket partnership that kept them at bay. McCullum guarded the strike well and in the process smashed a few boundaries to force India to bat again. His 9th wicket stand with O’Brien ended when the tail ender was wrongly given caught bat pad off Harbhajan Singh. O’Brien lasted 45 balls in a partnership of 86 that kept the Indians waiting for almost 21 overs! Brendon McCullum got himself out in the next over trying to play a forcing pull shot off Yuvraj Singh. McCullum missed out on a hundred by falling for 84 (from 135 balls with 11 fours). Harbhajan Singh had recorded his best figures overseas with 28-2-63-6.

India knocked off the target of 39 in just 5.2 overs without any loss with Gautam Gambhir keen on a quick finish. The southpaw scored a quick fire 30 from 18 balls with 6 fours. For some reasons, his opening partner was Rahul Dravid and not Sehwag. Dravid played his normal game, scoring 8 from 14 balls with 2 fours. The Man of the Match was given to Sachin Tendulkar.

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