Tendulkar & Yuvraj started off with a flurry of boundaries off Martin & O’Brien, who were bowling a bit short. Tendulkar had come out with a different attitude. Day 2 was all about grafting and getting in. Today he was playing strokes at every opportunity. He got to his 42nd hundred pretty quickly but as Shastri pointed out he played & missed more in that period than all day on Day 2! Then the bowling tightened up, the length was increased resulting in a couple of maidens. Yuvraj then shouldered arms to a straight one from Martin coming around the wicket and lost his offstump!! Dhoni struggled early on with his timing but Tendulakr calmed him down while he continued his sublime batting form. Surprisingly Vettori took both bowlers after 6 overs each and the change worked in favour of India and they went to lunch with a lead of 100 with 5 wickets. The session to India.
Soon after lunch, Dhoni started to play some shots. He did not look very convincing, almost got caught by Ryder but a couple of balls later was caught behind trying to hook a bouncer. This was not a wicket for really playing shots, unless your name ended with KAR 🙂 . By now, O’Brien was really pounding the ball in. Dhoni’s wicket spurred him on and he got a beauty to lft off just short of a good length to snort up on Tendulkar, getting the edge. Tendulkar had made 160 by then and India was 164 ahead. There was a bit of lusty hitting by Harbhajan. Surprisingly Vettori took himself off at this point and brought in Mills. While Mills picked up Harbhajan trying to drive on the up, his bowling continued to be pedestrian with Zaheer peeling of 16 from his next over. Zaheer continued in that merry vein taking India past 500 before Munaf was picked up. India scored about 130 runs in this session while NZ got 5 wickets. Even I reckon.
The kiwis got off to a disastrous start with McIntosh nicking the second ball of the innings to Tendulkar. There seemed to be no doubt about the catch in the minds of the umpire or the fieldsman but slow-mo replays kicked off a lot of conjecture about the cleanliness of the catch. Guptill & Flynn settled down and the former played some lovely drives. The Indian pacers kept a full length and a tight line. It was tough test match stuff on a 3rd days wicket that did not offer much to the bowlers. But being on the slow-ish side the batsmen had to be cautious too as Guptill found out when he drove a bit casually at Harbhajan and was picked up by Sehwag at mid-off. Mills came on and I thought Dhoni missed a trick by not bring the quicks immediately back for him. He did bring Munaf back for the last over of the day and after tormenting Mills with 4 of the first 5 balls, Patel put him out of his misery by nailing him in front of middle & leg. With 3 wickets, India just edged out NZ for honours in that session.
Session tally : India 7 and NZ 2
With Harbhajan getting some turn and high on confidence, the kiwis have their work cut out tomorrow