Dhoni hails team after series win
India captain hails team after first series victory in New Zealand for four decades.
Last Modified: 07 Apr 2009 22:01 GMT

Sachin Tendulkar celebrates after taking the wicket of James Franklin [AFP]
India wrapped up their first Test series win in New Zealand in 41 years as the third Test ended in a rain-sodden draw in Wellington.

India needed only two New Zealand wickets to win the third Test when rain began to fall mid-afternoon, eventually forcing the umpires to call a halt to play an hour from scheduled stumps.

The previous six India tours to New Zealand have failed to secure a Test series win.

Since winning the first Test by 10 wickets at Hamilton, Mahendra Singh Dhoni's squad had been favoured to end that drought.

Setting a benchmark

"We have achieved something big, we have set a benchmark and the next team will be under pressure to sustain it," Dhoni said.

"It will be tougher for the next guys who come here, people will expect you to win."

New Zealand were 281 for eight in their second innings, still 335 runs behind India after being set a massive 617 to win.

Ross Taylor reached his fourth Test century, his second in successive Tests, and shared a record 142-run fifth-wicket partnership with James Franklin (49) which prolonged New Zealand's innings until the rain intervened.

Off-spinner Harbhajan Singh took four for 59 and completed match figures of 7 for 102 to bowl New Zealand to the brink of defeat and there were outstanding performances from Sachin Tendulkar, who took two wickets, and Rahul Dravid, who held his 184th Test catch.

New Zealand captain Daniel Vettori was 15 not out and No. 10 Iain O'Brien 19 not out when rain halted play 29 minutes into the day's second session.

Ishant Sharma spilled a vital catch, dropping O'Brien, 10 minutes before the rain arrived. In doing so, he might have cost India their last chance of winning the match.

Ross Taylor takes the long walk back to the dressing room [AFP]
Team performance

India were still pleased to have won a series in New Zealand for the first time since their inaugural tour in 1967-68.

"Credit to both the bowlers and the batsmen. We really performed as a team right throughout this tour and that is what's important," Dhoni said.

"We didn't rely on a single batsman.

"We got contributions throughout the whole series from everyone, Rahul (Dravid), Sachin (Tendulkar), V.V.S. (Laxman).

"Everyone contributed so overall I think that was a great effort.

"Whenever it was needed someone contributed and that's great for the morale of the team."

India took charge of the final Test when they dismissed New Zealand for 197 on Saturday in reply to their first innings of 379, taking a 182-run lead.

They declared their second innings at 434-7 on Monday, with an overall lead of 616 and with five and a half sessions or at least 168 overs remaining.

Rain was forecast for the final day and there was a suspicion India may have
batted on too long to give themselves maximum opportunity to close out the series with a win.

The tourists reduced New Zealand to 84-4 before Taylor and Franklin combined in the largest fifth wicket partnership by a New Zealand pair against India.

They batted almost 25 overs before stumps on Monday and a further 21 overs on Tuesday to lengthen the New Zealand innings and to bring the rain into

Harbhajan bowled Taylor for 107, ending his innings of 257 minutes, and also removed Tim Southee (3) while Tendulkar contributed the wickets of Franklin, who was stuck for 4 1/2 overs on 49, and Brendon McCullum for six.

New Zealand were 258-8 when Southee was out but Vettori and O'Brien defied
India for the last half hour.

"I'm just a bit disappointed (not to win)," Dhoni said.

"We were expecting to have more overs but I still feel whatever opportunities we got we made the most of.

"We would have been really happy with one more win to clinch the series but it wasn't to be."

NZ outplayed

Third Test scorecard
India first innings 379
New Zealand first innings 197
India second innings 434-7 dec.
New Zealand second innings (overnight 167-4)
T McIntosh c Dravid b Khan 4
M Guptill lbw H Singh 49
D Flynn b Khan 10
R Taylor b H Singh 107
J Ryder c Dravid b H Singh 0
J Franklin lbw Tendulkar 49
B McCullum c Dravid b Tendulkar 6
D Vettori not out 15
T Southee c Dhoni b H Singh 3
I O'Brien not out 19
Extras 19
Total (for eight wickets, 94.3 overs) 281
Fall of wickets: 1-30 2-54 3-84 4-84 5-226 6-244 7-253 8-258
India took control of the series when they won the first Test and preserved that margin when the second Test at Napier ended in a high-scoring draw.

"I think to have them 200 for six on the first morning after we took a gamble bowling first was really pleasing and I suppose from then on in it was a bit disappointing that we didn't go on," Vettori said.

"It was a poor performance in the first innings with the bat but it was good to see a fighting performance from some guys; Ross Taylor and James Franklin today with the bat and I think Chris Martin's bowling throughout the whole series has been a particular highlight.

"There are some positives but we have to look back and say we were outplayed in two of the three Test matches."

Opener Gautam Gambhir was named player of the match for his 167 in India's
first innings.

Gambhir had scores of 72, 30 not out, 16, 137, 23 and 167 for 445 runs at an average of 89.

Dravid finished with 184 catches in Tests, eclipsing the world record of 181 he previously shared with Australia's Mark Waugh.

"It's great to be part of the team and to achieve this," Dravid said.

"Taking catches is about the team. It's about helping your bowlers and you need the bowlers to create the nicks for you.

"I've been fortunate over the last 13 years. I've played with some very good bowlers and I've been lucky, worked really hard and it's been really satisfying."

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