New Zealand were trailing by 222 runs at stumps on the second day at Wellington, after Ajinkya Rahane powered India to a 246-run lead with his maiden Test ton. The 25-year old reached the landmark in his fifth Test on foreign soil. The patient knock kept the balance tipped in India’s favour. Complemented earlier in the innings by MS Dhoni, Rahane exuded class en route to 118 as he built on the platform laid by Shikhar Dhawan (98).
After bowling India out for 438 late in the final session, the Black Caps were 24 for one at the end of day’s play.
To begin the day, pelted with barrage of short balls Ishant Sharma resisted admirably for over half-an-hour in the morning. He sent Trent Boult racing through the slips to the boundary and then on the leg side as he added useful runs to the total. The night-watchman brought up the partnership’s fifty with another four off Boult before edging him to the wicketkeeper.
Dhawan, meanwhile, kept the scoreboard ticking as he inched towards his second century of the series. Beaten and posed with a few questions by Tim Southee, the opener had worked his way into the nineties. Keeping the momentum going, he hit Southee to the ropes to reach 98 but was done in by the bowler off the next ball. Two short of his century, Dhawan looking to hit a probing delivery from Southee through covers was caught by BJ Watling behind the stumps.
Rohit Sharma then joined Virat Kohli in the middle and two overs later was Jimmy Neesham’s first Test wicket. Playing on to the stumps, Rohit returned without opening his account.
Ajinkya Rahane got off the mark with a straight drive and continued to bat in the same vein. Although Kohli had timed a couple of hits to the fence superbly he was tied down by the NZ bowlers. But the pair ensured that they don’t let New Zealand get a foot in the door by losing anymore quick wickets. Playing carefully they kept the scoreboard ticking and took India past the hosts’ first innings total. With lead of nine runs they took the visitors to lunch at 201 for five.
Kept on a tight leash by the opposition, Kohli prodded his way to 38. And with Rahane scoring more freely the partnership was worth 63 until Kohli departed hitting Wagner straight to short cover as he looked to garner runs.
India led by 36 when Dhoni joined forces with Rahane. The India captain took on Wagner who had dismissed him twice in the last match.
Dhoni smashed him four consecutive boundaries in an over. He pulled the bouncer with the same disdain as he treated all the other deliveries.
Rahane and Dhoni scored at a steady pace as they built the partnership. There was little that the Kiwi bowlers could do as the Indian batsmen chipped away at the bowling. The youngster who had not been allowed to covert his starts into longer knocks in the previous game looked in sublime touch. He brought up his half-century with a single to deep-point off 93 deliveries.
With India in control, McCullum took the new ball as soon as it was due and brought back his two most potent weapons – Boult and Southee – into the attack. Looking to break the partnership the new ball, the fast bowlers hit the deck hard till tea was called with the visitors on 301 for six. While the captain led the charge, Rahane anchored the innings as they took India past the 300-run mark.
Timing was of essence as Rahane negotiated the new ball. He drove through mid-off and cover while Dhoni slammed Southee over long-off for a six in the next. With contrasting styles, one, exquisite timing and other with sheer power they milked the NZ bowlers in the final session of the day.
Dhoni reached his fifty and continued to bludgeon the bowlers. He upper-cut Southee to the fence and then hit him behind point to add four more. The captain then brought up the first 100-run partnership of the match with a single to mid-wicket. At the other end Rahane drove Boult for two glorious boundaries.
The relentless Boult eventually halted the partnership for 120 with a bouncer which brushed past Dhoni’s glove and into the gloves of the keeper. Ravindra Jadeja took over from his skipper and found the gaps and boundary with ease. He punched the ball down the ground and hit over the slip cordon as he scored in all areas of the ground.
However, a catch low on his left by Peter Fulton in the slips ended Jadeja’s cameo. With India on 385 for eight, Zaheer Khan joined Rahane in the middle. After patiently making his way to 99, the youngster pulled Corey Anderson over the mid-wicket boundary to reach his hundred off 149 balls.
Rahane garnished the glorious knock with a couple of boundaries and a huge six before returning to the dressing room. It was eventually a one-handed catch by Boult, bolting in from the boundary after the batsman had skied Southee that brought the innings to halt.
15-runs later, the visitors’ innings too came to halt with Zaheer edging Wagner to Watling.
Propped up by a sizeable lead the Indian bowlers took the field and Zaheer who had been wicketless in the first innings claimed Fulton off his first over to leave the home team on one for one.
Hamish Rutherford and Kane Williamson were batting on 18 and four respectively when play was called off for the day.