India on the brink of victory
New Zealand are set mammoth 616 run chase in third Test as India hunt series win.
Last Modified: 06 Apr 2009 10:20 GMT

High spirits as Harbhajan Singh and Mahendra Dhoni dance at the end of the fourth day [AFP]
Ross Taylor reached 68 not out and guided New Zealand to 167 for four at stumps in the third cricket Test in Wellington, after India declared with a commanding 616-run lead.

With James Franklin, who was 26 not out at stumps on the fourth day, Taylor had put on 83 for the fifth wicket to lift New Zealand from 84-4 in the mid-afternoon as India pressed closer, in cool temperatures and strong winds, to match and series victories.

New Zealand were still 450 runs from their winning target at stumps, drawn almost an hour early because of bad light, and the match was largely under India's control.

India lead the series 1-0 after winning the first Test at Hamilton by 10 wickets and after the second Test at Napier was drawn.

A win or draw from the final Test at the Basin Reserve will seal India's first Test series victory in New Zealand in 41 years.

Formidable lead

India pushed their overnight score from 349-5 to 434-7 before declaring halfway through the first session on Monday -  a lead of 616 runs with five and a half sessions or a possible 168 overs remaining in the match.

Captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni was left 56 not out. Yuvraj Singh made a quick 40 before the declaration.

"Our strategy was to put as many runs on the board as quickly as possible and declare and have enough time to win the game,'' Yuvraj said.

"We wanted to declare quickly and get 600 runs on the board so we could have enough overs to bowl at New Zealand.

"Fingers crossed, we should get enough overs tomorrow. The wicket has become a little slow suddenly and the batsmen are set and can get runs.

"We will have to work hard to get those last six wickets.''

New Zealand vice-captain Brendon McCullum said he was surprised by India's decision to bat for so long. He said New Zealand now had to fight hard to save the match, if not the series.

"You can't pray for rain or you can't expect rain to get you out of a sticky situation,'' he said.

"If we find ourselves waking up in the morning with a big blue overhead then we've got a fight on our hands and that's something we've got to stand up to.

"Hopefully, we can grow in character by getting out of this one.''

Umpire intervention

That Taylor was still at the crease at stumps, and that New Zealand were still only four wickets down and not in a more desperate position, was due to the intervention of the television umpire earlier in the day.

Taylor was 9 and New Zealand 65-2 when the right hander turned a ball from Harbhajan to Virender Sehwag at short leg.

India loudly appealed and Australian umpire Simon Taufel upheld the appeal, effectively leaving New Zealand 65-3 and in a state of collapse.

Taylor began to leave the field as Taufel appeared to consult his fellow umpire, compatriot Daryl Harper, and as initial television replays seemed to show the ball had bounced before reaching Sehwag.

The New Zealand batsman was two thirds of the way to the boundary when he stopped, apparently at a signal from his teammates, and stood watching a replay of his dismissal on the stadium's large screen.

Television umpire Tony Hill of New Zealand then appeared to relay to Taufel by radio his judgment that the ball had not carried cleanly to Sehwag and Taylor was recalled.

The decision awarded a small reprieve to Taylor and New Zealand although the home team's second innings still steadily decayed between lunch and tea as both Zaheer Khan and Harbhajan captured two wickets.

Dravid record

Fourth day scorecard
India first innings 379
New Zealand first innings 197
India second innings (overnight 349-5)
G Gambhir lbw O'Brien 167
V Sehwag c Taylor b Martin 12
R Dravid c McCullum b Vettori 60
S Tendulkar c Taylor b Vettori 9
V Laxman b O'Brien 61
Y Singh c Taylor b Martin 40
M. Dhoni not out 56
H Singh c Southee b Martin 0
Z Khan not out 18
Extras 11
Total (for 7 wickets dec., 116 overs) 434
Fall of wickets: 1-14 2-184 3-208 4-314 5-319 6-397 7-397

New Zealand second innings
T McIntosh c Dravid b Khan 4
M Guptill lbw H. Singh 49
D Flynn b Khan 10
R Taylor not out 69
J Ryder c Dravid b H Singh 0
J Franklin not out 26
Extras 9
Total (for four wickets, 56 overs) 167
Fall of wickets: 1-30 2-54 3-84 4-84
Rahul Dravid also claimed two catches to first set, then extend a world record from most Test catches in a career, moving to 183 to eclipse the mark of 181 he had previously shared with Australia's Mark Waugh.

Dravid captured the outright record when he caught New Zealand opener Tim McIntosh for 4 when New Zealand was 30.

He then caught Jesse Ryder off Harbhajan to leave New Zealand 84-4.

Ryder, who made a double century in New Zealand's only innings in the drawn second Test at Napier, lasted only two balls before falling to Dravid and Harbhajan.

Earlier in the same over opener Martin Guptill was trapped lbw by Harbhajan for 49.

The score was Guptill's highest in Tests, beating the 48 he made in the first innings of the first Test. Guptill has yet to make a half century in Tests.

Taylor did so for the sixth time, reaching his 50 in 102 minutes from 66 balls with nine fours.

Zaheer Khan bowled a spell of 15 consecutive overs on either side of lunch and had two for 50 at stumps, while Harbhajan found sharp turn on a deteriorating pitch and had 2-36 at the close of play.

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