NZ bowlers strike, test remains in balance
AUCKLAND (Reuters) - Neil Wagner took two wickets after lunch to drag New Zealand back into the first test against India on Sunday as the visitors advanced to 270 for five at tea on the fourth day, needing a further 137 runs to complete a remarkable victory.
Wagner dismissed the dangerous Virat Kohli for 67 to break a 128-run partnership with Shikhar Dhawan, then had the opening batsman caught behind for 115 to give the hosts hope they could still win the match at Eden Park.
Trent Boult then dismissed Ajinkya Rahane before tea with the first delivery of the second new ball when he trapped the batsman lbw for 18, though television replays showed Rahane had got an inside edge before the ball hit his pads.
Rohit Sharma (19) and captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni (two) were together at the break with the match still slightly in India's favour though they will face a one-over old ball on a deteriorating seamer-friendly pitch when they return.
Prior to Wagner's exploits, India had looked like they could achieve victory by the end of the day's play on Sunday.
If India wins the match it would be the third highest successful run chase in test history and the fifth time a team has scored more than 400 runs to win a match.
The highest successful fourth innings run chase in New Zealand was the 348-5 West Indies scored in 1969.
India's innings has been built around Dhawan, who had struggled for form before the Eden Park clash and was dismissed for a three-ball duck in the first innings.
Resuming on 49, he almost ran himself out when going for a quick single to reach his half century then saw off Tim Southee in the first hour and began to accumulate by putting away bad balls and leaving ones he did not need to play.
He resumed after lunch on 81 and wasted little time in the 90s, bashing a six to move to 99 and prematurely celebrate his century before Kohli directed his attention to the scoreboard.
Dhawan, however, was able to celebrate properly on the next ball when he cut legspinner Ish Sodhi to the cover-point fence for his 11th boundary.
Kohli had begun to look ominous after lunch before Wagner produced the first of his wickets when the right hander got an inside edge to a delivery and wicketkeeper BJ Watling took a good low catch to leave the visitors on 222-3.
His second wicket of the session came about 25 minutes before tea when Dhawan fended off a bouncer and got an edge through to Watling.
Tim Southee had snapped up the valuable wicket of Cheteshwar Pujara for 23 in the morning session when he nicked a seaming delivery through to Watling.
The second test in the series begins at Wellington's Basin Reserve on February 14.
(Reporting by Greg Stutchbury in Wellington; Editing by John O'Brien)
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