Fighting Black Caps go down in second test

MARK GEENTY
Last updated 22:22 03/09/2012

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New Zealand's 24-year winning drought in India has been extended, but not without giving the hosts a mighty fright and restoring plenty of credibility.

The calm head of India's revered skipper MS Dhoni led home a five-wicket victory late on day four in Bangalore, chasing 261 to complete a 2-0 test series sweep.

Dhoni and first innings century-maker Virat Kohli added an unbroken 96 for the sixth wicket to douse a late, spirited New Zealand charge.

But this gripping test will be remembered for New Zealand's massive form turnaround from Hyderabad and their robust efforts with the ball which had the match in the balance to the end.

Tim Southee's remarkable first innings haul of 7-64 put them in a winning position and Ross Taylor also responded to the pressure with a rapid day one century and some nice captaincy touches.

Still, they need to get over the line some time and this was New Zealand's fourth successive defeat, with Sri Lanka their next test opponents in November.

Crucially, the tourists didn't score enough second innings runs when a chase of 300-350 would probably have been enough.

New Zealand had won just twice from 31 previous tests in India, the last in 1988 in Mumbai. Batting remains a work in progress but the New Zealand bowling is in fine health.

It didn't seem a huge total but India needed to make history to achieve it. The highest fourth innings at the ground was 239 by India in a losing cause against Australia in 2004.

The M Chinnaswamy Stadium pitch was excellent and added to a cracking spectacle. It had pace and bounce, then offered some variation and turn as the pressure went on in the run chase.

While the New Zealand pacemen dominated the first innings, Jeetan Patel's offspin kept the tourists in it yesterday.

A spinner should be a key factor on day four in India and Patel (3-68), who's made massive strides, was indeed a threat with flight and turn.

His introduction by Taylor was crucial after India's openers blasted 77 off 11.5 overs. Having been welcomed by a Virender Sehwag six, Patel flighted another and Sehwag got in a tangle.

Then it slipped away again as luck went against the tourists. Trent Boult didn't get the rewards his sharp spells deserved, and was denied a close lbw shout against Sachin Tendulkar on nought.

Then gloveman Brendon McCullum, standing in for Kruger van Wyk (bruised arm), missed a stumping off Cheteshwar Pujara.

Rain arrived at 147-2 but it was a timely break, seemingly galvanising New Zealand for one final push as India lost 3-14 in an intense period after tea.

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Southee wasn't as sharp after his first innings exertions, but still had enough zip to cartwheel Tendulkar's middle stump. The great batsman is missing straight deliveries, a sure sign his career is near a close.

Then Patel struck a double blow; Pujara snaffled brilliantly by a diving Daniel Flynn at bat-pad, then Suresh Raina charging recklessly as the pressure got too much.

At that stage 95 were still required with five wickets in hand and it was advantage, New Zealand.

- Stuff

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