India move towards NZ series win

Rahul Dravid's 191 puts India in a winning position against New Zealand in the final match of tied series.

    India had a busy day between the stumps as they built a huge lead in the third test of the tied series [AFP]

    Rahul Dravid struck a superb 191 to put India in a winning position in the series-deciding third and final Test against New Zealand on Monday.

    The stylish right-hander smashed 21 fours in his nearly 10-hour innings and shared 193 runs with captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni (98) to help India declare their first innings on 566-8 for a huge lead of 373 runs.

    Off-spinner Harbhajan Singh then gave India an early breakthrough by having opener Tim McIntosh trapped leg before wicket for eight.

    The visitors need 349 runs more with nine wickets in hand to avoid an innings defeat after finishing day three on 24-1. Brendon McCullum was unbeaten on 15 and Gareth Hopkins was on one.

    The day belonged to Dravid who steadied the innings after India lost three wickets for 32 runs early in the morning session.

    He looked set for a well-deserved sixth double-century but was caught by Martin Guptill as he attempted to loft part-timer Kane Williamson (1-45) over long-on.

    "It would have been nice to get those nine runs," Dravid said. "I guess it was a wrong choice of shot on my part. But the real credit should go to our bowlers for bowling out New Zealand for 193 in their first innings.

    Dhoni narrowly missed out on a century, offering a tame return catch to left-arm spinner Daniel Vettori (3-178) after facing 156 balls and hitting 12 fours and a six.

    Dravid completed his second century of the series with a flicked two off Vettori and celebrated it by pumping his fists in the air.

    He made 104 in the drawn first Test in Ahmedabad. Harbhajan, enjoying rich form with the bat in the series, tried to add some quick runs after the dismissals of Dhoni and Dravid but was caught by McCullum for 20 off paceman Chris Martin an hour before stumps.

    Earlier, India slipped to 328-5 inside the first hour of the morning session after resuming at a strong 292-2.

    Debutant New Zealand paceman Andy McKay bagged a memorable first Test wicket when Sachin Tendulkar (61) edged him behind the stumps in the second over of the day. The batting superstar added just four runs to his overnight 57. He hit eight fours in his 129-ball knock.

    "We are on the backfoot at the moment," McKay said. "We will take it session by session and try to take the match to the fifth day."

    India suffered another blow with the in-form Venkatsai Laxman (12) losing his leg-stump to an inswinger from Martin (2-82). Vettori claimed a wicket off his first ball of the day by inducing an inside edge from an off-colour Suresh Raina, who has just 26 runs from four innings in the series.

    The series is tied 0-0 after the first two matches ended in draws.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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