Feb 082014

New Zealand are somehow looking over their shoulder after a bizarre third day of their opening Test with India in Auckland.

Having closed on Friday with a lead of 373 and India four down, the hosts proceeded to skittle the tourists for 202 as their pace attack fired at Eden Park.

But rather than make India bat again and reach the 301 needed to send New Zealand in once more, captain Brendon McCullum chose to ignore the follow-on option.

The move had serious consequences as India got their own back and whipped the Kiwis out for 105 before closing a dramatic day on 87 for one as they set off in pursuit of 407 to win.

It would be the third-highest run chase of all-time and India’s best if they pull it off.

Ajinkya Rahane was the first Indian batsman to fall on the middle day, going to Tim Southee for 26, with Rohit Sharma then cleaned up by Trent Boult for 72.

When Mahendra Singh Dhoni nicked Neil Wagner behind for 10, the writing was on the wall and, despite an unbeaten 30 from Ravindra Jadega, India barely scraped past 200.

That left New Zealand 45 minutes to bat before lunch and the chaos continued.

Hamish Rutherford was plumb leg-before to Mohammed Shami in the first over, with Peter Fulton going to the same man in the third. When Kane Williamson also perished, the Black Caps were 11 for three.

McCullum had an even more uncomfortable lunch break as he went before the bails were flicked, short of his ground setting off for a needless second run.

Corey Anderson went to Shami after the break, after which Ross Taylor and BJ Watling managed to string 38 runs together. However, Zaheer Khan snared the former and the incoming Southee went for 14.

The tail barely wagged after that, with Taylor’s 41 the outstanding score on a dismal card.

Murali Vijay departed for 13, yet Shikhar Dhawan and Cheteshwar Pujara ensured India ended the day with valuable momentum.

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