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Openers set up India to overhaul NZ’s 350

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Virender Sehwag 96 HyderabadOpeners Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir scored half centuries as India began well at 178 for 2 in pursuit of overhauling New Zealand’s first innings total of 350. Virender Sehwag played a blistering knock much to the delight of the huge crowd at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium in Uppal but much to everybody’s disappointment played a rash slog sweep on 96 to get dismissed! The Kiwis exerted quite a bit of pressure on India after Gambhir’s dismissal and the pair of Dravid and Tendulkar had to battle out the last thirty minutes before Tea safely.

New Zealand after starting the second day’s play on 258 for 4 started to collapse once Zaheer Khan got the night watchman Gareth Hopkins and Kane Williamson out lbw within the first half hour. Hopkins offered no shot to a Zaheer indipper from round the sticks to get hit on the backpad plumb infront of the off stump and the Umpire had no hesitation in giving that out lbw. Kane Williamson, who scored a century on Test Debut at Ahmedabad was out to to a length ball from round the sticks by Zaheer, which was a typical Wasim Akram delivery zipping through off the pitch to thud the pad in infront of middle.

Harbhajan Singh joined the party soon by claiming his first wicket of the match when New Zealand’s Skipper Daniel Vettori (11) missed a sweep shot to get hit on the back thigh infront of middle to a full delivery which turned just enough to defeat the bat. It then needed a magical delivery from Harbhajan which turned sharply with plenty of bounce to force a well set Jesse Ryder on 70 (from 120 balls with 10 fours) to edge it to Laxman at slip. Harbhajan picked up his third wicket when he defeated Tim Southee in the air to have him stumped. New Zealand by lunch slipped to 341 for 9.

After lunch, New Zealand added nine more runs before Chris Martin got an inside edge off Harbhajan Singh to leg slip to be bowled out for 350 in 117.3 overs. Zaheer with 27-8-69-4 and Harbhajan with 35.3-10-75-4 raised their game when it mattered. By Tea, India steadily moved to 62 for no loss in 18 overs with Gambhir on 28 and Sehwag batting patiently on 29 as the Kiwi pacers had produced enough movement in the air to keep the batsmen under a check.

The final session saw Sehwag opening up and Gambhir growing in confidence and the vociferous crowd brought out of the best especially off the former. Sehwag got into a dangerous zone where he wanted to score off each and every delivery and it looked obvious that his downfall was to come anytime! Vettori provided the much needed relief for the Kiwis when Sehwag (96 from 120 balls with 15 fours and a six) paid price for an over ambitious slog sweep. Just three balls after that, Gautam Gambhir (54 from 129 balls with 7 fours) nicked a rising delivery from Tim Southee down the leg side to the keeper.

India went into a shell in the last few minutes with the Kiwis finding plenty of energy and the hosts settled to 178 for 2 in 49 overs with Dravid on 7 from 28 balls and Tendulkar on 11 from 18 balls.

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