1st Test, Day 3: Shikhar Dhawan, Chesteshwar Pujara take India to 87/1 in steep chase against New Zealand

On a topsy-turvy day which saw the fall of 17 wickets, India finished on 87/1 in their chase of 407, still needing 320 runs to take 1-0 lead in the two-match series at Auckland.

Updated: February 08, 2014 13:26 IST
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A tactical gamble and a batting collapse on Saturday reduced New Zealand from an impregnable position to being at risk of a stunning loss in the first Test against India. (Scorecard | Highlights | Pics | Day Report)

At stumps on day three, India was 87-1 in their second innings at Eden Park, chasing 407 for victory.

The odds favored New Zealand, though India, with no time pressure, would hold out hope of pulling off a remarkable victory after having trailed by 301 runs in the first innings. Only two teams in Test history have successfully chased more than 400 in a fourth innings.

New Zealand began Saturday well, quickly bowling out India for 202 in its first innings, claiming 6-72 in the session, and leaving India well short of the hosts' 503.

Overnight batsman Ajinkya Rahane and Rohit Sharma were both out inside the first seven overs of the day's play.

Neil Wagner bowled an aggressive spell, testing batsmen with a combination of full and short-pitched deliveries, to finish with 4-64 while Trent Boult and Tim Southee both took 3-38.

At that stage, it appeared a question of when, not if, New Zealand would win the Test, but the situation rapidly turned around for the hosts.

Captain Brendon McCullum took chose not to enforce the follow-on and instead bat again, despite having been stung at the same venue last year when England hung on for an unlikely draw.

New Zealand's seamers were hardly tired after bowling only 21 overs in the morning session, the humid conditions were favoring the pace bowlers, and India's batsmen were low on confidence and struggling against the swing and seam bowling.

Instead it was New Zealand's batsmen who were exposed to the tricky conditions, and were bowled out for 105 in just three hours. And 105 counted as a decent recovery after at one stage being 25-5.

Mohammed Shami took 3-37 and Zaheer Khan 2-23 before Ishant Sharma wrapped up the tail with 3-28.

Ravindra Jadeja finished with 1-10 from nine overs, claimed two impressive catches and effected McCullum's run out to add to the important 30 not out he made during India's innings.

Despite the rapid decline in New Zealand's position, Wagner was satisfied.

"We've got a lot of runs in the bank and they need more than 300 with nine wickets standing so we're happy with where we are," he said.

"If we can bowl really well and get a couple of wickets early tomorrow morning we can put them on the back foot."

Wagner said the New Zealand bowlers had no reservations about McCullum's decision not to enforce the follow on.

"We were all happy with that," he said. "We knew as a bowling unit that that would be the decision.

"It gave us an opportunity to get some fresh legs, have a quick ice bath and come out later."

India will resume on Sunday with Shikhar Dhawan on 49 and Cheteshwar Pujara on 22. The only dismissal in the second innings was Murali Vijay, caught behind off Southee for 13.

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