India struggling to save Test at 90/3 (Tea report)

Wellington, Feb 18: India at 90/3 are struggling to save the second Test at tea Day 5 while chasing a monumental target of 435 set by New Zealand at the Basin Reserve here Tuesday.

The visitors put on 80 runs in 27 overs in the second session but lost the top three of their batting order — Murali Vijay (7), Shikhar Dhawan (2) and Cheteshwar Pujara (17) — for only 54 runs. Virat Kohli (48 not out) and Rohit Sharma (15 not out) were at the crease when tea was called.

Black Caps pacers Tim Southee (2/33) and Trent Boult (1/30) created trouble for India, clinching all three wickets between themselves.

Kohli was also almost on his way out, batting at 15, when he edged a delivery to keeper B.J. Watling. However, the Delhi batsman was extremely lucky when umpire Steve Davis turned down the appeal or India would have been reeling at four wickets down.

Earlier, the hosts posted their highest ever total of 680/8 declared as skipper Brendon McCullum became the first New Zealander to go past the 300-mark, scoring 302 runs.

McCullum became the top Test scorer for the Kiwis, surpassing legendary Martin Crowe’s 299 against Sri Lanka here in 1991 while New Zealand’s colossal total outscored their previous best of 671/4, also in the same Test.

Resuming the day at 571/6, McCullum patiently put on 19 more runs in the morning to complete his triple century while all-rounder Jimmy Neesham scored a century on debut, remaining unbeaten on 137.

The duo continued their good work from Day 4 and extended the seventh-wicket partnership to 179 runs before McCullum edged a Zaheer Khan delivery to India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni to finally end his classic innings.

The stadium rose to applaud the wicketkeeper batsman’s effort as the Indian fielders walked up to shake his hands and congratulate him as the 32-year-old raised his bat before walking back into the pavilion. McCullum hit 32 boundaries and four sixes in his 559-ball innings.

Zaheer scalped Southee (11) shortly after to take the 11th fifer of his career. Neesham put on 41 more runs with Neil Wagner (2 not out) before the duo were called back in to let their bowlers have a go at the Indian batsman.

IANS