Bhajji shines with bat once again
Harbhajan Singh extended his fairytale run with bat to help India take a significant lead over New Zealand and provide the platform for the hosts to push for victory in the second Test in Hyderabad on Sunday.
Harbhajan smashed the Kiwi bowlers to smithereens during his swashbuckling unbeaten knock of 85 off just 82 deliveries, and his unbroken 69-run last-wicket partnership with S Sreesanth helped India finish the day at a commanding 436 for nine, thereby enjoying a lead of 86 runs.
Harbhajan's knock was laced with seven boundaries and five massive sixes. Such was his onslaught that India racked up 113 runs in the final session.
Besides Harbhajan, a fluent half-century by VVS Laxman characterized India's display in the first two sessions, but it was Harbhajan's knock lower down the order that swung the pendulum in India's favour.
Image: Harbhajan Singh celebrates after making a half-century
Vettori snaps Tendulkar early
India were looking to stamp their authority over the visitors, but got a major blow in the morning session, when New Zealand skipper Daniel Vettori had master blaster Sachin Tendulkar caught in the slips by Ross Taylor.
The crowd who filled the stands in anticipation of seeing Tendulkar score his 50th Test century, were disappointed after he had to walk back to the pavilion.
After a 20-minute stay during which he survived a run-out scare and some uneasy moments, Tendulkar rushed down the track without getting to the line of a delivery that turned away after pitching on the leg stump.
The last-minute slog took the edge and Taylor stretched to his right to complete a fine one-handed catch, much to the delight of the visitors.
Image: Sachin Tendulkar walks back to the pavillion
Dravid-Laxman steadies Indian innings
After Tendulkar's departure, Laxman and Dravid survived a testing morning session.
Laxman was elegance personified from the word go and was a sheer delight to watch, especially in the session between lunch and tea. The stylish Hyderabadi began the session after tea with an on-drive off Arnel before gliding the bowler towards the third man for another four.
Using his wrist, Laxman caressed Arnel through the on-side and then swept Vettori over midwicket for fours.
Dravid, at the other end, was biding his time and waited for the bad deliveries. While there weren't many bad ones on offer, but Dravid was quick to latch on to a bouncer from Southee.
The Karnataka batsman rolled his wrists on it and managed to send the ball to the boundary through a packed on-side field that had a short leg, short square-leg and short midwicket.
Image: VVS Laxman plays a pull shot
Kiwis stifle Indian batsmen
But just when Dravid looked set for another half-century, he lost his concentration and was caught plumb in the wicket by Tim Southee for 45 runs.
After Dravid departed after a patient just after lunch, Suresh Raina came in and started on a positive note. He played an off-drive first up and followed that up with another well-timed boundary through the covers.
But, in trying to hoick Vettori, holed out to Marin Guptill. Raina was Vettori's second wicket of the day, to add to his dismissal of Sehwag Saturday evening.
Image: Rahul Dravid walks back the pavillion after being dismissed by Tim Southee
Laxman misses out another ton
Laxman too gave his wicket away, just when he was looking good. A lapse in concentration saw the local boy walk back the pavilion straight after tea break.
Skipper MS Dhoni too followed the Hyderabadi batsman, when he spooned a simple catch to Brendon McCullum in covers for just 14.
Zaheer Khan, who got a few short deliveries from the pacers tried to hit his way out of the trouble but couldn't last long and was holed out for seven.
Image: Chris Martin celebrates as he dismisses VVS Laxman
Bhajji lights up Hyderabad
After a century and a fifty in the first Test at Motera and his sterling display with ball on the second morning, the 'Turbunator' kick-started his innings with a couple of power-packed shots to the fence.
The feisty off-spinner then pulled Brent Arnel for a massive six over deep square-leg to signal his intentions.
But his best moment came when he launched into Kiwi skipper Daniel Vettori, after rain interrupted the match for 18 minutes.
Vettori had taken four wickets by then, including the one of Sachin Tendulkar, but Harbhajan was unfazed. He lofted Vettori over long-on for a massive six and then, in a repeat of his earlier shot, sashayed down the ground to score the maximum again.
The lusty hitting continued unabashed as the 50-run partnership between the two came up in double quick time, of which Sreesanth's contribution was a mere 10.
Long-on turned out to be Harbhajan's favoured area as the Jalandhar man greeted Chris Martin with a massive six over that region. He treated Arnel in a similar fashion hitting him for a four and a six on the on-side.
Image: Harbhajan Singh hits a six