Indian bowlers peg back Kiwis
Indian bowlers responded splendidly to their captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni's call of rising to the occasion as they pegged back New Zealand to 148/7 after a curtailed first day's play of the third and final Test on Saturday.
Only 56 overs of play was possible as the match started at 12:30 pm due to wet outfield. But the Indians more than made it up for the lost time with some disciplined bowling effort.
At stumps, Brendon McCullum, who battled a severe back pain throughout his innings, was batting on 34 in company of Tim Southee (7). The only other notable Kiwi contributor was Jesse Ryder who hit a useful 59.
Image: S Sreesanth in action during the third Test in Nagpur
Sreesanth provides the early breakthrough
India's new ball duo of S Sreesanth and Ishant Sharma blew away the New Zealand top-order to set the tone as the hosts looked like going for the kill to win the series.
In pace spearhead Zaheer Khan's absence, Sreesanth (2/20) and Ishant (2/32) bowled beautifully. The effort was even more laudable as one session of play was completely lost which could be vital in the context of the match.
New Zealand captain Daniel Vettori elected to bat after winning the toss but the move backfired as the Indians came up with a superb show at the post-lunch session.
New Zealand openers Tim McIntosh (4) and Martin Guptill (6) started sedately before Guptill hit a square cut off Sreesanth. His opening partner Tim McIntosh repeated the shot off Ishant in the very next over.
However, Guptill did not last long as Sreesanth produced a beauty of a delivery to get rid of the makeshift opener.
Sreesanth produced another gem of a delivery in his very next over when he got one to move in after pitching it outside off as southpaw McIntosh played to a wrong line. The delivery went between his bat and pad to send the off-stump for a walk.
Image: S Sreesanth cleans up Tim McIntosh in Nagpur
Ishant picks up dangerous Taylor
His new ball partner Ishant, who in his first couple of overs did not make the batsman play much, bowled a better line when skipper Dhoni brought him from the pavilion end.
The Delhi pacer produced one of his trademark in-cutter that saw Ross Taylor (20) not committing fully on his front foot and was adjudged leg-before. The score was 42 for three at that stage.
New Zealand's find of the tour, Kane Williamson (0) failed to check his drive off a flighted delivery from Ojha and Sehwag got a dolly at short cover.
McCullum's injury also meant that skipper Vettori (3) had to promote himself up the order at number six.
With four down and only 43 on the board, the pressure was a bit too much on the skipper as he needlessly tried to pull an Ishant delivery back on to his stumps.
Image: Ross Taylor plays a shot during the third Test match against India in Nagpur
Ryder steadies innings
Ryder, who has been India's nemesis in the series, batted in the manner he only can as he hit boundaries of both Ojha and Harbhajan Singh.
In company of wicketkeeper-batsman Garreth Hopkins (7), Ryder added 31 runs for the sixth wicket. However Hopkins never looked convincing during his 36-ball stay at the wicket.
McCullum finally came into bat at number eight and both he and Ryder were in acute pain while taking singles.
The New Zealand duo could barely hobble to the other end. While Ryder was carrying a calf muscle injury and McCullum, who was carrying a back injury, seemed to have also pulled a hamstring.
However, since both carried their injuries into the match, they were not allowed to take runners.
Ryder duly completed his sixth half century in Test off 81 deliveries with five hits to the fence.
Ojha got his second wicket when he got one to turn away from the batsman and the resultant catch was taken low down by Suresh Raina at second slip.
Image: Jesse Ryder plays a sweep shot during the third Test against India in Nagpur