Auckland: India conjured up hopes of a record runchase before a lower middle-order collapse saw the visitors slump to a 40-run defeat against New Zealand in the thrilling first cricket test and hand over a 1-0 lead to the hosts in the two-match series here on Sunday.
Chasing 407 to win, India resumed their second innings at 87 for one and the visitors were on course with Shikhar Dhawan (115) and Virat Kohli (67) sharing 126 runs for the third wicket but pacer Neil Wagner took four crucial wickets in the post-lunch session to derail India`s chase at Eden Park here.
After a series of low scores, Dhawan returned to form today as he cracked a patient century and anchored the Indian innings along with Kohli, who too looked in good touch. But Wagner`s double blow left India tottering at 270-5 at tea and it was left to skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Ravindra Jadeja, who launched a counterattack to leave the Kiwis dazed but once they departed India failed to overhaul the target.
Wagner took the wickets of Dhawan, Kohli, Zaheer Khan (17) and Dhoni (39) to return with a eight-wicket haul from the match, while Tim Southee added three wickets to his three-wicket haul of the first innings. Earlier, India started the day still in need of 320 runs and Dhawan and Pujara looked to provide them a solid start. In the very first over of the day, Dhawan reached his half-century, getting the milestone ticked off early, facing 75 balls and hitting five fours.
Dhawan had a shaky start as he survived a couple of LBW shots, even through they seemed to be sailing over the stumps. The Kiwis were bowling a nagging line and length, especially Tim Southee and he was soon rewarded for it. In the fifth over of the morning, he bowled a near-perfect delivery to Pujara who could do nothing but play at it and edged it the keeper. Pujara was out for 23 runs (71 balls, 1 fours, 1 six), leaving a mountain to be climbed for the rest of the batsmen.
Kohli then came out to bat and patiently saw off Southee`s super spell of 6-3-4-1. At the other end, Dhawan too continued to bat cautiously as the 100-run mark came for the chase in the 32nd over. They tempered their batting according to the situation, mixing aggression with defence.