The openers gave a rollicking start to India’s chase before departing in quick succession as the hosts reached 88 for two at lunch aiming to overhaul a target of 261 on the fourth day of the second and final cricket Test against New Zealand on Monday.
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Virender Sehwag (38) and Gautam Gambhir (34) plundered the Kiwi attack to give a perfect start to India’s chase with their entertaining stand of 77 in under 12 overs.
While Sehwag was out bowled by Jeetan Patel, Gautam Gambhir was dismissed by Trent Boult.
At lunch, Cheteshwar Pujara and Sachin Tendulkar were batting on 10 and 0 respectively.
Among the two openers, Gambhir looked more attacking and scored freely off Kiwi pacers, who had tormented the top order in India’s first innings. Sehwag too chipped in with some lovely strokes to the fence.
The pair overcame the drought of not scripting a half century partnership in the last 11 innings when Gambhir exquisitely punched Doug Bracewell to deep extra cover fence for a boundary.
The New Zealand pacers, who bowled their heart out in the Indian first innings, did not impress much in the morning as they were too excited with the new ball in their hands.
They experimented far too many things, pitching up to the wickets and hurling some short stuff, which prompted the openers to play their natural game.
As soon as the Indian score raced to 77, Ross Taylor brought in off-spinner Jeetan Patel, who did not disappoint the captain.
Patel flummoxed the dangerous Sehwag 38, who struck seven fours and six, with a flighted ball which disturbed his off stump.
After Sehwag’s dismissal, the runs dried up for India and that brought New Zealand back into the game. It played on the patience of Gambhir and prompted him to fish outside the off-stump losing his wicket to Trent Boult for 34 (58 balls 4×7).
After that Tendulkar survived a loud appeal for LBW off Boult, but the impact was outside the line of off stump.
Earlier, New Zealand were skittled out for 248 runs setting India a target of 261 to win.
The New Zealand second innings folded after pacer Zaheer Khan claimed Jeetan Patel, who hammered two boundaries of the 16 runs scored today in a bid to get some vital runs on the board for Indian batsmen to chase.
Patel was caught behind by skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni for a gutsy 22 runs off 27 balls.
Off-spinner R Ashwin was the star bowler for India as he led the attack by scalping five wickets for 69 runs. He was ably supported by Pragyan Ojha and Umesh Yadav, both claimed two wickets each.