Tail wags for dogged India
Harbhajan Singh strokes half century as lower order pitches in at close on day one.
Last Modified: 03 Apr 2009 09:21 GMT

Tendulkar's wicket always sparks a party [GALLO/GETTY]

New Zealand were ruing two hours of blistering shot-making by India's batsmen as the advantage they had built after tea evaporated by the close of play on the first day of the third and final Test.

India, who lead the series 1-0, finished on 375 for nine after Harbhajan Singh's 60 and captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni with 52 had resurrected their side from 204 for six shortly after tea.

Zaheer Khan, who smashed Iain O'Brien for four successive boundaries, joined in with a quick-fire 33 as India scored 185 runs in the final 35 overs of the day.

"The tail wagged," New Zealand all-rounder James Franklin said.

"Probably 320, 330 would be a fairer reflection on the day for us but Harbhajan played his luck and got away with it and so did Zaheer."

Summer of '68

New Zealand had clawed their way back into the match, which they must win to ensure India do not win their first series in New Zealand since 1968, after Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir had scored 65 runs in the first hour.

Sehwag fell two short of his half century and Gambhir was out for 23.

"That last hour of the first session I thought we bowled pretty well and the last hour of the second session as well," Franklin added.

The all-rounder admitted, however, his side had bowled too short to the Indian tail, with Harbhajan in particular, slashing boundaries over the slips or through extra cover.

"The short ball always tends to work well against tails and we probably didn't bowl enough good stuff of that," Franklin said.

Harbhajan said he had relished the length the New Zealanders bowled as it suited his natural game.

That's the way I like it

"On this kind of wicket it is easy to score runs when the ball is short and they did bowl too short to me...that's the way I like to bat," the off-spinner said.

India first innings

G Gambhir lbw Franklin 23
V Sehwag c McCullum b O'Brien 48
R Dravid c Franklin b Martin 35
S Tendulkar c McCullum b Martin 62
V Laxman c McIntosh b Southee 4
Y Singh lbw Ryder 9
M Dhoni c O'Brien b Southee 52
H Singh c Vettori b Martin 60
Z Khan c McCullum b O'Brien 33
I Sharma not out 15
M Patel not out 14
Extras 20

Total (9 wickets, 90 overs) 375
FOW: 1-73 2-75 3-165 4-173 5-182 6-204 7-283 8-315 9-347

Harbhajan said the wicket was a little two-paced and if his side's bowlers produced a disciplined line and length on Saturday, they should be able to take wickets.

"We just need to be patient when we come to bowl tomorrow and hit the right areas and if we do so we will get the results."

Earlier Rahul Dravid ground his way to 35 and Sachin Tendulkar brought up his 53rd Test half century, but was dismissed shortly after when he got an edge to wicketkeeper Brendon McCullum off Chris Martin for 62.

VVS Laxman, who scored a century in the second innings of the second Test in Napier, was caught at second slip by Tim McIntosh for four off Tim Southee.

Part-time bowler Jesse Ryder then had Yuvraj Singh trapped in front for nine to leave the hosts struggling at 190 for five at tea.

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