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Page last updated at 09:38 GMT, Friday, 3 April 2009 10:38 UK

Late rally gives India the edge

Third Test, Wellington (day one, close):
India 375-9 v New Zealand
Match scorecard

Sachin Tendulkar
Tendulkar is averaging over 80 in the series so far

Late-order half centuries from Mahendra Dhoni (52) and Harbhajan Singh (60) gave India the edge on a first day of fluctuating fortunes in the third Test.

Quickfire runs from Virender Sehwag (48) and Sachin Tendulkar (62) gave India a solid platform in Wellington.

But they slumped to 204-6 just after tea as they lost four wickets for only 39 runs, including VVS Laxman for four.

Dhoni and Singh arrested the slide and Zaheer Khan added a rapid 33. Chris Martin claimed 3-95 for New Zealand.

Harbhajan was pleased to have been able to contribute vital runs and hailed India's battling spirit.

"It was crucial to contribute lower down the order and if you look at the scoreboard we have got some decent runs," said Harbhajan.

"Many teams would think they were in control, but I knew that we have done it before and that there was a very good chance for me to go out there in a pressure situation and deliver."

Black Caps paceman Martin admitted it had been a frustrating day for the home side.


"They probably ended up with 50 or so too many," he said. "We probably didn't have the energy or endurance to press home our advantage at the end.

"We came out of the day not too bad, but that extra wicket would have been nice."

With New Zealand trailing 1-0 in the series going into the Test Black Caps captain Daniel Vettori took the necessary but risky ploy of choosing to bowl first on a batting-friendly Wellington wicket.

Bearing in mind the conditions he will be happy to have restricted the tourists to what, in truth, could have been a much more imposing score had India's experienced and talented batting line-up converted good starts.

Sehwag played a typically aggressive opening innings, smashing his way to within touching distance of a half-century, while Gautam Gambhir offered a more conservative approach at the other end.

It was hardly surprising that Sehwag was first man out as he attempted to punch a good-length delivery from Iain O'Brien into the off-side but succeeded only in thick-edging to wicketkeeper Brendon McCullum.

James Franklin (centre) appealing
Franklin appeals successfully to dismiss Indian opener Ghambir

One wicket became two shortly after as James Franklin claimed the wicket of Gambhir lbw for 23.

Tendulkar then took the lead in a 90-run partnership with Rahul Dravid as India fought back from the double-wicket salvo to reclaim the initiative.

However, his dismissal - edging a Martin delivery to McCullum when trying to punch the ball through cover point - signalled a mini India collapse.

Tim Southee had Laxmann caught at second slip by Tim McIntosh and then Yuvraj Singh (9) was out lbw to Jesse Ryder before Dravid fell for 35 mistiming a pull off Martin to gift a catch to Franklin at square-leg.

With India rocking Dhoni and Harbhajan scored 52 and 60 respectively to wrest control away from the home side before the former top-edged a Southee bouncer to O'Brien at fine leg and the latter granted Vettori a simple catch at mid-off off Martin.

Zaheer was the final wicket of the day to fall - caught superbly by McCullum off the bowling of O'Brien - leaving Ishant Sharma and Munaf Patel to resume on day two.

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see also
Laxman century earns India draw
30 Mar 09 |  Cricket
Harbhajan spins India to victory
21 Mar 09 |  Cricket
Sehwag stars as India romp to win
11 Mar 09 |  New Zealand
India in New Zealand 2009
23 Mar 09 |  Cricket

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