Eyeing to force a result in their favour, India scored more than four runs an over to set a competitive target of 370 runs for New Zealand on the penultimate day of the first Test at the Sardar Patel Stadium in Ahmedabad today.
By close of play, the Kiwis had shaved 48 runs off the target while losing the wicket of Mark Richardson for 21 and would now have to bat the entire day tomorrow to avert defeat.
Opener Lou Vincent was batting on 21 while night watchman Daryl Tuffey was yet to open his account when stumps were drawn for the day on a pitch which was still showing no signs of deteriorating.
After having allowed India to pile on 500 runs in the first knock, New Zealand did well to avoid the follow on mainly due to the gutsy show by their tail-enders specially Daniel Vettori who scored a fine 60 runs before their innings folded on 340.
But India came back with a vengeance and did not let go the initiative, scoring 209 runs in 44.1 overs, built around another brilliant knock by first innings double centurion Rahul Dravid (73) and V.V.S. Laxman who scored an equally impressive 35-ball 44.
Captain Saurav Ganguly also chipped in by hitting two sixes and one four in his 23-ball 25 to make up for a very entertaining second session for the sizeable crowd here.
The Indians, who came in for flak for their slow batting on the first two days of the Test, made amends today, unleashing beautifully driven fours and even huge sixes to ensure not much time was wasted.
But their desperation to get quick runs also cost them a few cheap wickets including that of batting mainstay Sachin Tendulkar (7) and Virender Sehwag (17).
It was Dravid who again came to the rescue of his team and it was pure delight to see him in action as he cut, drove and pulled all around the wicket specially once he reached his 50.
It was not a chanceless knock though for 'The Wall' as he was dropped twice including once when he was on 71 off Vettori.
But the stylish right-hander did not prove to be third time lucky when he departed two runs later on 73, Vincent taking a catch off spinner Paul Wiseman near the fence. His 86-ball knock included six fours, two of which came in one over by Jacob Oram, who was hit for as many as 39 runs off eight overs.
Debutant Akash Chopra also tried to open up but his knock was cut short by Vettori who had him caught by Scott Styris for 31.
It was Wiseman who turned out be th emost successful bowler for the Kiwis picking four wickets including the prized scalp of Tendulkar.
Tendulkar, who was out for eight in the first innings, was expected to go all out with India needing to score quickly, but he looked off-colour during his brief 15-ball stay at the wicket. Tendulkar was dismissed for seven when he failed to middle the ball off Wiseman to gift a catch to Vettori who was superb in the field today.
Making up for Tendulkar's failure was the 35-ball 44 by the wristy Laxman who seemed to have shed his inhibitions as he rotated the strike well in the company of Dravid and also punished the odd ball by disptaching it to the boundary. He also hit a huge six besides six fours.
It was the turn of skipper Ganguly to take charge once Laxman and Dravid departed with the score reading 177 for five.
On the look out for the big ones, Ganguly wasted no time and hit both Vettori and Wiseman for a six each while also hitting one four before he was bowled by Wiseman for a 23-ball 25.
But the job had been done and the Indian skipper declared the innings to set a target of 370 for the Kiwis.
A cameo knock under his belt in the first innings, Parthiv Patel came into bat with a lot of confidence but did not get a chance to show his skills and remained not out on five.
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