Bhajji in record books
Harbhajan Singh smashed his way into the record books by becoming the first number eight batsman in the history of Test cricket to hit back-to-back tons even as the second Test between India and New Zealand headed towards a tight finish in Hyderabad.
After Harbhajan propelled the hosts to a challenging 472 with a blistering unbeaten 111 off 114 deliveries, Brendon McCullum led a strong New Zealand riposte by notching up his sixth Test century, which helped his side finish the day at 237 for the loss of four wickets.
The visitors gained a lead of 115 runs at stumps, on day four, at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium.
Image: Harbhajan Singh celebrates after reaching his century in Hyderabad
Harbhajan-Sreesanth put up a century stand
Earlier in the day, Harbhajan was on fire as he shared a 105-run stand with the S Sreesanth to put India in a strong position.
The off-spinner, who has now become the highest run-getter in the tournament, slammed an unbeaten 111 off 116 balls.
Resuming at an overnight score of 434 for nine, the duo of Harbhajan, who was unbeaten on 85 at stumps on the third day, and Sreesanth racked up 36 runs in quick time that saw the off-spinner getting to the coveted landmark.
Harbhajan started from where he had left off on the third day, slamming Vettori for a straight six over the long-on. After reaching his century, he smashed Southee over widish long-on for his seventh six of the innings and second of the day.
The landmark was touched when Harbhajan tucked off his hips a Tim Southee delivery, in the seventh over of the day.
New Zealand skipper Daniel Vettori, bowled nearly 50 overs, ended Sreesanth's stay at the crease, when he sent the Kerala pacer back the pavilion. Vettori finished with impressive figures of five for 135 and was abley supported by Tim Southee, who took three for 119.
Image: Harbhajan Singh celebrates after scoring his century against New Zealand in Hyderabad
Kiwis begin well
Openers McCullum and Tim McIntosh started on a positive note and shared an opening stand of 125 to help New Zealand clear the deficit.
Both the New Zealand openers batted with ease and displayed great character in dealing with the Indian spinners.
After Zaheer Khan and Sreesanth failed to provide a breakthrough, MS Dhoni introduced the spinners but the New Zealand openers, especially McCullum, used their feet well to score some quick runs against Harbhajan and Pragyan Ojha.
McCullum chipped down the track to loft Harbhajan over his head to signal his intentions. He then greeted Ojha with another massive six over long-off, which landed on the second tier of the pavilion end, and then swept the bowler to the deep midwicket boundary.
Harbhajan was again at the receiving end of McCullum's onslaught, when the batsman smashed him for the maximum over long-off.
Image: Brendon McCullum celebrates after reaching his century
Ojha provides the breakthrough
Just when chips were down Ojha provided the breakthrough as he had McIntosh caught brilliantly by Cheteshwar Pujara at forward short-leg for a well-made 49.
He then had Martin Guptil, who was looking dangerous in the second innings as well caught by skipper himself for 18.
However McCullum, however, stood firm at the other end and a spanking off-drive off the bowler stood out.
Dhoni tried to play on McCullum's patience by employing a 6-3 packed on-side field when Harbhajan Singh was operating from round the wicket, but the Kiwi was unruffled and, on a couple of occasions, used the reverse sweep to great effect against the off-spinner.
He got to his century, his sixth in the longer version of the game, with a cracking square-cut off Harbhajan.
S Sreesanth brought some cheer back in the stands when he got one move in a bit after pitching breaching through Ross Taylor's defence as India looked to stamp their authority.
Raina then had dangerous Jesse Ryder caught behind the stumps by Dhoni to end the day on a high for India.
Image: Pragyan Ojha reacts after dismissing Martin Guptil