Black Caps unravel on the pitch

MARK GEENTY AT EDEN PARK
Last updated 18:42 08/02/2014
Neil Wagner
Reuters
ON TOP: The Black Caps have hammered home their advantage on day three of the first test against India.

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India stormed back into the first cricket test after being set a lofty 407 to win by New Zealand in Auckland today.

Down and out when trailing by 301 on the first innings, then tourists went to stumps on day three on 87-1, 320 short of what would be a remarkable comeback victory at Eden Park.

Opener Shikhar Dhawan was still there on 49 after being dropped by New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum st short cover in the second over. 

With him was run machine Cheteshwar Pujara on 22, with Virat Kohli to follow.

It was a madcap third day where 16 wickets had tumbled by just after the tea break.

New Zealand, after racking up 503 in their first innings, were skittled for 105 in just 41.2 overs by a rejuvenated India pace attack.

Last pair Neil Wagner and Trent Boult managed to inch New Zealand to three figures and avoid being the first test side to score 500 then be bowled out for under 100.

Pacemen Mohammed Shami (3-37) and Ishant Sharma (3-28) were the main destroyers for India who at least have an outside chance after staring down the barrel during the morning session.

McCullum's decision to enforce the follow-on and give his bowlers a rest will be the big discussion topic after New Zealand relinquished their vice-like grip on the match.

They dismissed India for 202 off 60 overs in their first innings thanks to some outstanding work from their three pacemen.

But the procession of batsmen didn't end there. For a third successive innings the hard new ball nipped around and New Zealand slumped to 25-5.

Shami did the early damage after an unlucky first innings, bowling at a sharp clip and extracting enough movement to trouble the home batsmen.

Both New Zealand openers continued their struggles, with Hamish Rutherford trapped plumb in front first ball, then Peter Fulton (5) driving straight to cover.

First innings centurion Kane Williamson faced 17 balls for three before he punched off the back foot against Zaheer Khan and Ravindra Jadeja held a brilliant one-handed catch at mid-wicket.

And the damage wasn't finished yet. McCullum, coming off 224 in New Zealand's first innings of 503, was dropped by Murali Vijay at first slip off Zaheer from the second ball he faced. 

Then, in the final over before lunch, Taylor called him back for a second run and Jadeja's throw to the bowler's end had the skipper one metre short of his ground. New Zealand were 15-4 after a madcap half hour.

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Corey Anderson was skittled by a fired-up Shami then Taylor (41 off 73) started to look comfortable before he was brilliantly held at gully by Ajinkya Rahane from a full-blooded cut shot. 

Tim Southee chipped Jadeja's spin to mid-wicket to end another ordinary session for the hosts.

Earlier, Wagner (4-64) led the way as he took the last Indian wicket to fall, nicking out tailender Shami.

India lost their last six wickets for 64 runs on a frantic third morning, with Southee (3-38) and Boult (3-38) outstanding up front.

India resumed on 130-4 and were met by a fired up New Zealand pace attack with the ball swinging generously for Southee and Boult.

Both claimed key wickets early on to keep India on the back foot.

Southee removed Rahane (26) with a classic outswinger then Boult knocked over topscorer Rohit Sharma (72) who drive at an inswinger and chopped on to his stumps.

Wagner then returned to snare the big wicket of captain MS Dhoni, caught behind pushing forward to a delivery on the line of off stump. The left-armer mopped up the tail in a hurry to finish the excellent start of the two new ball men. 

- Stuff

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