Rain, Taylor stitch a draw
India-New Zealand series
India remain 3rd in rankings
Dhoni’s side in same league with Oz, SA: Vettori
Azlan Shah Cup
Sayali, Thulasi ousted
Wellington, April 7
Rain played spoilsport in India’s push for a 2-0 series win on the fifth day and the hosts escaped with a draw after they were down 281 for eight in the post-lunch session in chase of a near-impossible 617 for a win.
The visitors will have to be content with a 1-0 victory in the three-match Test series after India won the first match in Hamilton by 10 wickets and drawing the second in Napier.
Despite the draw today, India ended their long wait of 41 years to win a Test series in New Zealand after Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi-led side drubbed the Kiwis 3-1 in 1968.
The Indians, who outplayed the Kiwis throughout the match, were well on course for a victory by conjuring up four wickets in just over a session before light rain stopped play 30 minutes into the post-lunch session. Daniel Vettori on 15 was at the crease at that time along with Iain O'Brien (19).
There was a glimmer of hope for India recording their 100th Test victory as covers were taken off for a short while to resume the post-lunch session half an hour after stoppage.
That hope disappeared as rain returned immediately and the light shower turned into a heavy downpour. The match was finally called off at 10.15 am IST, nearly one and half hours before the scheduled close.
Zaheer Khan, who took five wickets in the Kiwi first innings, ended the Test with figures of seven for 122 while Harbhajan Singh, with his 4/59 in New Zealand second essay, had match figures of seven for 102.
India claimed three wickets in the morning session after being frustrated for more than one hour by Ross Taylor (107) and James Franklin (49) who stitched a 142-run partnership for the fifth wicket.
Sachin Tendulkar took two crucial wickets — of Brendon McCullum and Franklin — in the last 15 minutes of morning session after Harbhajan had broken the fifth wicket stand by dismissing Taylor.
Harbhajan struck again in the second over after tea removing Tim Southee to reduce New Zealand to 258 for eight and set India on course to a deserving victory, before rain played spoilsport after a few minutes.
Southee got the outside edge of a Harbhajan floater just outside the off-stump which straightened instead of turning and Mahendra Singh Dhoni did the rest behind the wicket.
Tendulkar, in what could be his last Test appearance in New Zealand, could have claimed his third victim immediately after but for butterfinger Ishant Sharma.
O'Brien swept straight to Ishant off a Tendulkar full toss but the gangling Indian pacer failed to hold on to it at square leg.
Earlier, resuming at their overnight score of 167 for four on an extremely windy day, New Zealand made steady progress through their overnight pair of Taylor, who went on to complete his fourth Test century, and Franklin.
India's quicker bowlers struggled to cope with the strong winds and fielding was also a bit sloppy with Gautam Gambhir and Munaf Patel dropping Franklin and McCullum respectively.
Taylor helped himself to three quick boundaries off Ishant to ease into the 90s before a leg-glance off Harbhajan took him to his second century in as many Tests in this series.
It was Harbhajan who broke the dangerous-looking fifth-wicket partnership by accounting for Taylor, who played inside the line of a full-length delivery only to see the ball keep going away from him and hit the middle stump.
Taylor's 107 came off 165 deliveries in 261 minutes, and contained 16 hits to the fence. Alongside Franklin, he put on 142 in 279 balls for the fifth wicket, a New Zealand record against India.
Then a smart move by visiting captain Dhoni to bring in Tendulkar into the attack yielded results and the little master struck twice in the last 15 minutes of an extended morning session.
Tendulkar immediately troubled Franklin no end with his mixture of leg-spin and googlies. But, it was McCullum (6) who was Tendulkar's first victim, adjudged caught at slip by Rahul Dravid as he went for a big drive though television replays suggested there might not have been any contact between bat and ball.
In his next over, Tendulkar trapped Franklin in front for 49 to take India closer to victory only to be denied that by rain in the post -lunch session. — PTI
India-New Zealand series
Forty-one years is a long time indeed and India’s win in the Test series has taken it a step closer to being the top team in the world.
Sure there will be some who will say that a 2-0 win was frittered away by a late declaration but they are the same who, when a batsman has got a century will dwell on a chance he gave in his 20s or if a bowler has captured five wickets will talk about how many no balls he bowled.
They can never be satisfied and are always looking for a fault somewhere.
The fact of the matter is simple. India were 1-0 up and if a team had to make the moves, it was New Zealand if they wanted to level the series.
This is not being defensive. It is being practical. The Indians rightly shut New Zealand out of the game and then tried to win it. Nothing wrong with that at all.
The stop-start weather actually makes life tough for batsmen who have to restart their concentration and look to regain the focus and rhythm that they had before the interruption.
The pitch also becomes a bit livelier with the few drops it takes before the covers are put on and the overcast conditions help the ball to swing a bit more.
It was, however, the clever use of Tendulkar by Dhoni that brought India close to a win. The little champion would have been chaffing at the bits having missed out with the bat and so Dhoni, who is turning out to be a master at reading players’ moods, gave him the ball and, lo and behold, Tendulkar took crucial wickets.
His good pal Harbhajan also bowled quite superbly and, with fielders crowding the batsman, the pressure was truly on. Rahul Dravid's catching especially that low-sharp one from Ryder was exceptional and he fully deserves to be on top of the catching ladder.
It will be unfair to single out individuals in a team effort but some were truly outstanding like Zaheer and Harbhajan with the ball and Gambhir, Dravid, Laxman and Tendulkar with the bat.
The skipper showed with 50s in both innings that India’s batting depth is unmatched in world cricket today.
It has been a great tour for the team and they have done the nation proud with their deeds. Well done guys and may the force continue to be with you. — PMG
Dubai, April 7
Rain and stubborn New Zealand resistance led by centurion Ross Taylor prevented India from gaining a point and keeping up the pressure on South Africa, the side directly above it in the Test Championship table.
The eighth-placed Kiwis, in fact, ended up gaining a point for managing two draws.
If India could have forced a win, it would have given it a 2-0 series triumph and helped it retain its pre-series 118 ratings points, just one behind the second-placed Proteas, and 10 behind leaders Australia.
But a draw meant Dhoni's men had to be content with 117 points, two away from South Africa and 11 adrift of Australia.— PTI
Dhoni’s side in same league with Oz, SA: Vettori
Wellington, April 7 “India obviously outplayed us in all departments (in the third Test). Apart from our first day when we had them at 200 for 6, from then on, it's been India's game,” he said after the third Test ended in a draw to give India 1-0 triumph in the three-match series. “I think you can throw Australia, South Africa and India and there is the three best teams in the world, and it’s hard to distinguish between the three at the moment,” he added alluding to India's current strength. Vettori, however, rejected suggestions that he committed a mistake by asking India to bat after winning the toss. “I still look back and say you'll take 200 for 6 any day. “I don't have any regrets about the logic of the decision. I suppose you want a better result at the end of day but to have an Indian batting line up at 200 for 6 on a good wicket justified the decision,” he said.
Wellington, April 7
“India obviously outplayed us in all departments (in the third Test). Apart from our first day when we had them at 200 for 6, from then on, it's been India's game,” he said after the third Test ended in a draw to give India 1-0 triumph in the three-match series.
“I think you can throw Australia, South Africa and India and there is the three best teams in the world, and it’s hard to distinguish between the three at the moment,” he added alluding to India's current strength.
Vettori, however, rejected suggestions that he committed a mistake by asking India to bat after winning the toss.
“I still look back and say you'll take 200 for 6 any day.
“I don't have any regrets about the logic of the decision. I suppose you want a better result at the end of day but to have an Indian batting line up at 200 for 6 on a good wicket justified the decision,” he said. — PTI
Azlan Shah Cup
Ipoh (Malaysia), April 7
India, eight-time Olympic champions, put up a shoddy performance against newcomers Egypt, conceding a last-gasp goal to settle for a 2-2 draw on Sunday.
On the contrary, the hosts' confidence is sky high after registering back-to-back victories in the five-nation tournament.
Malaysia scampered past Pakistan 3-2 on Sunday before outplaying Egypt 4-1 yesterday and a win tomorrow will seal their place in the final, leaving India, New Zealand and Egypt to slug out for the other spot.
Pakistan, the other team in the event, has already been ruled out of the summit clash after they slumped to their second successive defeat yesterday.
And India could end up joining Pakistan on the sidelines if they don't win tomorrow's all-important tie as even a draw won't help their cause because New Zealand will take on lowly Egypt in the other match.
A win for the Kiwis and defeat or draw for India tomorrow, will more or less take the last year's runner-up out of the summit clash equation.
The coach Harendra Singh admitted it was a desperate situation. "We will continue to play attacking hockey and go for the win. A win tomorrow can only keep us in the fray for the final. We can't think about any other option," he said on the eve of the all-important match.
"India has to show their character. We will play simple hockey tomorrow but with confidence," he added.
Although India (10th) are five spots ahead of Malaysia in world rankings, the Sandeep Singh-led side will have to produce a disciplined performance to crack the hosts, who will be hoping to carry on their winning streak before the home crowd. — PTI
New Delhi, April 7
National champion Sayali thrashed Mendjargal Munkhchimeg of 21-8, 21-4 in just 20 minutes in the first round but the Pune teen could not continue her winning run in the next round.
Up against Chinese Zhu Jingjing, Sayali failed to recreate her form and bowed out 21-17, 21-13 in just over half an hour.
In contrast, Kerala's PC Thulasi played her heart out against Taiwanese Pai Min Jie but could not get past her rival losing 9-21, 22-20, 7-21 in a 50-minute battle in the first round.
Sayali had beaten Thulasi in the finals to emerge as the new National Champion in February.
Thulasi also created a flutter when she dethroned world number 100 Neha Pandit of Maharashtra in the third round of the National badminton championship. — PTI
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