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Rediff.com  » Sports » Wellington Test drawn, India pocket series 1-0

Wellington Test drawn, India pocket series 1-0

Last updated on: April 07, 2009 11:08 IST

Scorecard 

The third and final Test between India and New Zealand ended in a draw as play was not possible after rain came down during post-lunch session on the fifth day at the Basin Reserve in Wellington on Tuesday.

New Zealand was 281 for 8 when rain started, in chase of a near impossible target of 617.

India tried desperately to force a result but the hosts hung on. However the visitor's delayed declaration coupled with the weather ensured New Zealand escaped with a draw.

India though won the three-match Test series 1-0 to record their first series victory on New Zealand soil after 41 years (since 1967-68). It was also India's 13th overall series win overseas.

Gautam Gambhir was named man of the match for his superlative effort with the bat.

On the flip side India's Wellington woes continued. The Men in Blue are winless at the Basin Reserve since February 1968.

And India also failed to pocket what would have been their 100th Test match win.

Morning session: (87 runs, 32 overs, three wickets)

New Zealand began day five having realized two things.

First was the fact that they had effectively lost the series. And second, they had a genuine chance of saving the Test and thereby keeping the loss to a minimum.

For achieving the draw, the hosts had to bat responsibly and lose as fewer wickets as possible, especially in the morning session.

And they were also aware they might get the blessings of the weather gods in the latter part of the day.

To their credit they batted well in the first hour. However, to their detriment they lost three crucial wickets, two of them to part-timer Sachin Tendulkar, in the second hour.

Resuming at 167 for four, the New Zealand batsmen were aware of the weather forecasts. It had rained overnight and it was being predicted that the rain will return and affect the day's play. And it was on this assumption that Ross Taylor and James Franklin seemed to have prepared their strategy.

A strategy that was simple and rational – to bat as long as possible, avoid risks and rework their goals and priorities as the day progressed.

That explained the slow scoring rate. New Zealand scored only 28 runs in the first hour of play on day five. 

Taylor and Franklin extended their fourth wicket stand – it eventually became a fifth-wicket record for New Zealand against India at 142 – and looked quite comfortable against the Indian bowlers.

The hosts' first goal was achieved when they escaped unscathed at the first drinks break.

The only chance that India had during the period came from Franklin's blade and Gambhir spurned the opportunity at short leg. Harbhajan was the bowler at loss.

Soon after, Taylor went on to complete his century with a leg glance of Harbhajan. It was Taylor's fourth Test hundred, his second against India and his second in successive Tests – after his 151 at Napier.

Taylor almost scooped the very next delivery to the covers fielder. Fortunately for him the ball landed safely.

MS Dhoni, in an attempt to break the partnership that had started frustrating the Indians, gave the ball to Tendulkar.

The Master Blaster tried enough variations and one of his topspinners got the leading edge of Franklin's bat. But it didn't find the fielder.

However, India didn't have to wait long for the breakthrough.

It came in the very next over when Harbhajan yorked Taylor will a fuller delivery from round the stumps.

Taylor made 107, a resilient knock that came of 165 balls and contained 16 hits to the fence. New Zealand 226 for five.

Tendulkar appealed vociferously for a leg before decision (Franklin) in his second over but his teammates were not as enthusiastic. Television replays showed the ball would have missed leg stumps.

Tendulkar almost got a wicket in the last ball of the over when Brendon McCullum scooped a dipping full toss to mid-off. However, Munaf Patel wasn't quick to react and the ball dropped just in front of him.

However, Tendulkar got McCullum's wicket soon after with Dravid adding one more to his record tally of catches. New Zealand 244 for six.

And the Master Blaster justified Dhoni's faith in him yet again when he trapped Franklin plumb in front a few overs later.

The 28-year-old was stuck on 49 for almost four overs and missed out on a well-deserved half century. 

But Tendulkar was definitely enjoying his twin successes with the ball.

At lunch, New Zealand was 254 for seven. Captain Daniel Vettori was batting on 10 and giving him company was Southee (yet to score).

Post-lunch session: (27 runs, 6.3 overs, one wicket)

Having lost vital wickets in the first session, the only way New Zealand could have saved the match was by batting for the entire second session and then hoping the weather would favour them in the final session.

However, they received a jolt in just the second over after lunch when Harbhajan made Southee (3) edge one to Dhoni.

It was the off-spinner's fourth wicket of the innings and bolstered his reputation as a good second innings bowler further.

Harbhajan finished the series with 16 wickets, the most by any bowler from either side.

Three balls later, he hit Vettori's front pad but the New Zealand captain survived even though the television replays suggested he was out.

Tendulkar was unfortunate not to have picked up Iain O'Brien in the next over. O'Brien almost fell prey to a dipping full toss but Ishant Sharma was in a benevolent mood, dropping a sitter at deep square leg.

O'Brien thanked his good fortune by smashing Tendulkar for two boundaries in the latter's next over.

The new ball was taken in the day's 39th over but it was delivered only once before there was a rain delay with the home team at 281 for eight.

The weather gods, it seemed, had finally relented to New Zealand's prayers.

Vettori was batting on 15 and O'Brien on 19, and the hosts were still a whopping 335 runs short of their target when the covers were brought on.

Fortunately for them, and unfortunately for India, the covers could never be taken off.