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Sunday, September 2, 2012

India Vs New Zealand: 2nd Cricket Test Tantalizingly Set Up!



India would need to score maybe around 250 runs to win the second Test against New Zealand in Bangalore and seal the Test Series 2-0. New Zealand would like to add as many runs as possible for the last wicket tomorrow and hope to bowl India out to restore full honors by drawing level 1-1.  At stumps on the third day New Zealand made 232/9 in the second innings with an overall lead of 244 runs.
In a dramatic and absorbing third day’s play today 14 wickets fell and as per the standards set in this Test nearly 300 runs were scored. India could add only 52 runs more to the overnight 283 and got all out for 353 conceding a lead of 12 to the Kiwis. Even that was possible largely due to the dogged partnership of 33 runs for the last wicket with Ashwin making 32.
Faced with top class seam bowling with the new ball by the Kiwi pacers Virat Kohli and Dhoni could not last long. Kohli departed immediately after scoring his second century in ten Tests and Dhoni shortly afterwards—both falling to the unplayable Southee who took four out of the five wickets falling today registering his career best figure of 7 wickets for 64 runs.
New Zealand had a tremendous opportunity to take cue from their first innings batting performance and dominate India by setting a daunting target to chase in the fourth innings.  The Kiwis started in full flow, but then collapsed in a dramatic manner thanks largely to some uninspired and thoughtless batting display. They could not craft a long partnership and wickets fell at regular intervals. The highest partnership was of just 55 runs between Franklin and Van Wyk and when Franklin became the 7th out at the score of 216 the end was near. There was not a single half century in the entire Kiwi innings so far and it would be an extremely tall order to expect that from the last pair standing.
The Indian spinners were supreme once again. Ravi Ashwin achieved his fifth five-or more-wicket haul in as many Tests and his third in the four innings of this two-Test series. Pragyan Ojha came in with two so far. Of the pacers Zaheer went wicket less and Umessh Yadav captured two.
The second Test in Bangalore is now tantalizingly set up with fifty-fifty chance to both teams for a win. The highest successful chase by India at this ground was 207-3 against Australia in 2010. For an Indian win Gambhir, Sehwag and Tendulkar must perform tomorrow. Kohli’s super form notwithstanding it would be exerting too much pressure on him to expect one more major innings.  Skipper Dhoni’s role in the middle part of the story is also going to be crucial. As per the scoring pattern of this Test it should be over in the fourth day itself barring rains.
Three absorbing days of cricket and a suspenseful fourth day ahead. A good sporting pitch not likely to deteriorate even on the fourth day and immensely capable of producing results. Around 300 runs being scored everyday and wickets falling too in an intense battle between the bat and the ball. This is indeed good new for Test Cricket—the truest form of the game.
For cricket lovers it’s a great Monday to look forward to. 
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