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As many as 14 wickets fell on what might might well have been the deciding day of the second and final test between India and New Zealand at Bengaluru. India started the day at 283/5 but surrendered to the new ball with Tim Southee running through the lower half of Indian batting capturing 7 wickets to dismiss the hosts for 353, thereby securing a negligible 12 run lead for the visitors. But the Kiwis could not end the day on a high as the Indian tweakers Ravi Ashwin and Pragyan Ojha did not let them forge any substantial partnership and inflicted plenty of damage to the New Zealand innings by grabbing quick wickets towards the end of the day's play to reduce New Zealand to 232/9 resulting in a net lead of 244. India will consider themselves favourites to wrap up the New Zealand innings early tomorrow and chase down any score under 280 to wrap up the series 2-0.
The first session of the third day of the Bengaluru test went the Kiwis' way as they first bowled out India for 353 and then made a comfortable start to the second innings to gain a lead of 41 at lunch.
The day embarked with the match evenly poised after Virat Kohli and skipper MS Dhoni added 104 runs last evening and pulled India out of a hole to drive the innings to 283/5 at the close od the second day's play. MS brought up his fifty with a glorious straight drive to the long off boundary off the very first delivery with the second new ball. In the same over, Kohli who began the morning on his overnight score of 93, reached his century, his 2nd overall in tests after his heroics in Perth earlier this year against Australia, with with a delightful boundary to the leg side.
Those two brief moments of celebration aside, the rest of the day belonged to New Zealand and to seamer Tim Southee in particular, who destroyed the Indian lower order using the new ball like a cannon.
Kohli was caught in front of the stumps while shying away from playing one that came back in to him sharply and was adjudged leg before wicket for a well made 103. Southee followed it up with another brilliant inswinger that struck Dhoni's pads and would have clipped the leg stump to send the Indian captain back for 62.
He then went after the Indian tail, removing Zaheer Khan (7) by pitching one short which he nicked through to Kruger van Wyk behind the stumps. Pragyan Ojha(0) perished in the same over when he jabbed at a good length delivery, only for Van Wyk to grasp it to bring up Southee's 7th victim of the innings.
The last man Umesh Yadav however stood firmly with Ravi Ashwin, who showed courage and went after the Kiwi seamers hammering them for a few boundaries on the off side. The Indian innings finally folded for 353 when Trent Boult cleaned up Yadav's (4) leg stump, but not before the 33 run stand for the final wicket had ensured that New Zealand's first innings lead was cut short to just 12 runs. Ashwin remained unbeated on 32.
The New Zealand second innings began briskly with Brendon McCullum and Martin Guptill playing some attacking strokes which raced to the fence as the Black Caps stormed to 29/0 from 5 overs at the stroke of lunch.
The Indian bowlers came hard at the visitors in the post lunch session sending the top four Kiwi batsmen back to the pavilion. Umesh Yadav forced out both the Kiwi openers in successive overs, first dislodging Martin Guptill's(7) stumps when the batsmen inside edged a full toss and then getting McCullum (23) to faintly edge a good length delivery that just about held its path.
Captain Ross Taylor and Kane Williamson tried to resurrect the innings and added 38 for the third wicket before the Indian offie Ravichandran Ashwin ended Williamson's (13) resistance in his first over by getting the ball to turn a bit and take the outside edge of his bat through to Sehwag at first slip.
The next man in, Daniel Flynn, started scoring at a rapid rate, punching boundaries all around the park and took the New Zealand score beyond he 100 run mark. At the other end Ross Taylor looked set for another long stay at the crease, but Pragyan Ojha made him pay for a misjudged sweep shot off a delivery that had a bit moreflight and straightened after pitching to trap him leg before wicket for 33. Flynn in the company of allrounder James Franklin patiently advanced to take New Zealand to 123/4 when the umpires signaled for tea.
Soon after tea, Flynn, who had been looking threatening, departed for 31 while trying to cut an Ashwin delivery that wasn't as short as he had anticipated, and took the outside edge of his bat and flew to first slip where Sehwag completed a simple catch.
Wicketkeeper Kruger van Wyk though once again came to New Zealand's rescue, and added 55 runs for the 6th wicket with Franklin to stretch the Kiwi lead beyond the 200 run mark.
After surviving a pacey spell from Umesh Yadav who continuously banged the ball in short, Van Wyk was dismissed by Ashwin, whose straighter one found van Wyk's pads in front middle and leg. He made 31.
The Indian rookie added two more scalps to his belt by getting rid of the last of the recognized batsman Franklin(40) who came down the track to charge the spinner but was deceived by the extra bounce as Dhoni disturbed the furniture, and then dismantling Tim Southee's (2) stumps, as he attempted to drive a fuller delivery that spun back into him.
Pragyan Ojha too made his presence felt by chipping in with the wicket of Doug Bracewell (22), who was trapped right in front of the middle stump and declared leg before wicket. New Zealand concluded the day with scoreboard reading 232/9 with Jeetan Patel unbeaten on 10 and Trent Boult yet to get off the mark at the other end.
New Zealand would be disappointed not to have done more today, having had chances with both bat and ball to be in a commanding position in this test match. The Indian spinners deserve credit for exploiting the third day's pitch to perfection, with Ravi Ashwin bagging yet another five wicket haul on home soil. With still two days left, a result is surely expected with India having the upper hand should they be able to knock over the one remaining Kiwi wicket early tomorrow morning.
India: V Sehwag, G Gambhir, C Pujara, S Tendulkar, V Kohli, S Raina, MS Dhoni, R Ashwin, Z Khan, P Ojha, U Yadav
New Zealand: M Guptil, B McCullum, K Williamson, R Taylor, D Flynn/BJ Watling, J Franklin, T Boult, K Van Wyk, D Bracewell, J Patel, T Southee
New Zealand: 365 all out (81.3 overs, 4.02rpo)
K van Wyk 71 (100) P Ojha 5-99
R Taylor 113 (127) Z Khan 2-83
India 1st innings 353 (96.5 Overs, 3.64 rpo)
V Kohli 103 (194) T Southee 7/64
MS Dhoni 62 (94) D Bracewell 2/91
New Zealand 2nd innings 232/9 (69 Overs, 3.36 rpo)
J Franklin 40 (91) R Ashwin 5/69
R Taylor 35 (66) P Ojha 2/48
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