Chayan Rastogi/Zeecric Bureau
Hyderabad: After commendable performance from the bowlers in the first half of the day, Indian openers put India in driving seat as they stitched 160-run opening partnership to take early advantage on the second day of the second Test match here at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium.
After restricting New Zealand to 350 runs in first innings, India opened their batting inning cautiously with Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir shouldering balls outside off-stump and ducking bouncers.
Sehwag and Gambhir thereafter picked up pace and dispatched four boundaries each before tea as India went for evening break at 61 for no loss.
After tea, Sehwag dictated terms to what seemed spine-less Kiwi bowling, slamming boundaries across the park. Sehwag brought up his fifty with seven hits to the fence and stroked two more in Vettori’s next over to go past yet another 100-run opening partnership with Delhi team-mate Gautam Gambhir.
Gambhir, who is battling poor run of form, looked scratchy initially against pace bowling spell from Chris Martin and Tim Southee but he batted with determination and completed his first fifty in last ten months.
India went past 150 runs in quick time but just when Sehwag looked all set to reach his 23rd Test hundred, he misread the flight of a Vettori’s delivery and got clean bowled on an individual score of 96.
After Sehwag’s dismissal, Gambhir too lost his concentration in the next over and edged a leg-side delivery to wicket-keeper to get out on patchy 54.
The two new batsmen on the crease- Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar- then guided India past safely for the remaining time and remained unbeaten on seven and eleven respectively to finish the day at 178/2.
India now still trails by 172 runs in first innings with eight wickets in hand and will look forward to post big score to put Kiwis under some pressure on Sunday.
Earlier, bowling duo of spinner Harbhajan Singh and pace spearhead Zaheer Khan destroyed New Zealand plans to post a big total and restricted them for 350 runs in the first innings.
Harbhajan and Zaheer took 4-wickets apiece to restrict New Zealand’s progress on second day morning for mere 92 runs for last 6 wickets.
Zaheer Khan’s morning spell brought India back in the game as he striked twice to nail New Zealand wicket keeper Gareth Hopkins and last Test centurion Kane Williamson to put an early check on New Zealand’s progress.
Zaheer trapped Hopkins (4) plumb in front of the wickets with round-the-stumps angle, and then dismissed Williamson (4) in similar fashion, hitting on pads dead in front of stumps.
Unfazed by Zaheer’s cracking spell, Jesse Ryder continued his good run in this series and against India, and completed his fifty in style.
Ryder slashed Sreesanth’s delivery for boundary to raise his fifty and took New Zealand past 300 for the loss of six wickets.
Harbhajan Singh then came to party with his cracking spell of off-spin and picked up three quick wickets to demolish late-order Kiwi resistance. Harbhajan first trapped Black Caps skipper Daniel Vettori in front of wickets and then ended Jesse Ryder’s stay at crease.
Ryder made a solid contribution of 70 runs but edged a ‘doosra’ from Harbhajan to slips where VVS Laxman made no mistake.
Bhajji then picked up Tim Southee to sum up devastating morning session for Kiwis as they lost 5 wickets for 83 runs in the pre-lunch session of second day.
Earlier, New Zealand ended their first day at 258 for four at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium to make it a complete day for Kiwis.