India tighten grip on second test with NZ

HAMISH BIDWELL
Last updated 18:55 15/02/2014
Ajinkya Rahane
Getty Images
TEST TON: Ajinkya Rahane celebrates his century.
Corey Anderson
Reuters
UNDER PRESSURE: New Zealand's Corey Anderson bowls against India during the first innings on day two.

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Rain won't save the Black Caps, and it's hard to see them salvaging the second test against India by themselves.

New Zealand staggered to stumps 24 for one, still 222 runs short of making India bat again, with three days left to play in the final match of this two-test series at the Basin Reserve in Wellington.

The Black Caps had begun day too hopeful of restricting India to something around the 192 they'd been bowled out for themselves, after being put in to bat yesterday morning.

But from the outset New Zealand's bowlers battled to penetrate and looking to limit their losses quickly became their main tactic. That didn't work especially well either, with Ajinkya Rahane's maiden test century, plus 98 from dashing opener Shikhar Darwan and an, at times,

brilliant innings of 68 by captain MS Dhoni helping India post 438 and with it a potentially match-winning lead of 246.
Without Ross Taylor it's hard to see how the Black Caps could erase that deficit and then post a defendable total, given there's still so much time left to play in the match.

You'd like to hope that an innings defeat isn't in the offing, although the early dismissal of opener Peter Fulton certainly brought that into the equation.

Badly short of runs, Fulton shouldered to Zaheer Khan and was adjudged lbw by umpire Steve Davis. Hawkeye revealed the ball might've clipped the top of the offstump but, when you opt not to play a shot, you put your faith in the umpire and Fulton's went unrewarded.

At one for one, his opening partner Hamish Rutherford continued to bat in the only fashion he seems to know how. Expansive drives and slashes were aimed at any delivery in his arc, but he survived till stumps and will resume tomorrow on 18.

Kane Williamson (4) is the other not out batsman. If New Zealand are to have a prayer of taking this game into a fourth day, then Williamson will need to bat for most of tomorrow.

Conditions-wise, that shouldn't be too difficult. This Basin pitch has flattened out appreciably and whatever terrors it might've had on the first morning are now well gone.

New Zealand's bowlers would attest to that. You couldn't fault the way they kept running in, but their execution didn't always match the effort.

Tim Southee, Trent Boult and Neil Wagner all finished with three wickets, while there was a first test scalp for Jimmy Neesham.

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- Fairfax Media

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