Saturday, March 21, 2009


Harbhajan Singh took six wickets for 63 runs as India beat New Zealand by 10 wickets in the first Test on Saturday, posting its first Test win in New Zealand in 33 years to lead the three-match series 1-0.India led by 241 runs after its first innings when it reached 520 in reply to New Zealand's 279, then dismissed the hosts for for 279 in its second innings to leave itself needing just 39 runs for victory on the fourth day.Gautam Gambhir scored 30 and Rahul Dravid made 8 as India reached its winning target in just 5.2 overs. Sachin Tendulkar, who scored 160 in India's first innings, was named man of the match.New Zealand resumed its second innings Saturday at 75-3, trailing India by 161 runs and slumped in the face of Harbhajan's 23rd five-wicket Test haul to 199-8.A 76-run, 10th-wicket partnership between Brendon McCullum, who top-scored with 84, and Iain O'Brien, who reached his best Tests score of 14, allowed New Zealand to avoid an innings defeat.McCullum was the last man out and India was untroubled in reaching its winning target minutes ahead of the scheduled stumps time.Harbhajan hastened New Zealand's decline, taking five of the seven wickets to fall Saturday, including those of Daniel Flynn for 67, Jesse Ryder for 21 and Daniel Vettori for 21, eliminating the main obstacles to India's victory.
Flynn's posted his third Test half-century and was the only New Zealand batsman early in the day to show the discipline and application necessary to save the match. When he was dismissed in the second session with New Zealand at 161-7, the match was lost.
McCullum produced some pugnacious late resistance and found a stoic partner in O'Brien, who stuck at the crease for an hour and 40 minutes, slowing India's bid for victory. He helped New Zealand erase India's first-innings lead and made it necessary for the tourists to bat again to seal their win.McCullum batted for almost three hours and hit 11 fours in an innings which partly relieved New Zealand's embarrassment at a comprehensive defeat.
"It's pretty disappointing," McCullum said. "Playing at home you set high standards for yourself and we didn't play to those standards."We pride ourselves on our fight and scrapping and I don't think we fought and scrapped hard enough in this Test."India held a vice-like grip on the Test from the first day when, after winning the toss and making the unexpected decision to bowl first, it reduced New Zealand to 60-6 before lunch.
New Zealand captain Vettori (118) made his third test century and Ryder (102) his first in a small comeback, but New Zealand's first-innings total of 279 was never enough to pressure India.Tendulkar's magnificent innings — his 42nd Test century and his 18th Test innings in excess of 150 — gave India a commanding first-innings lead. Gambhir, who made 72, Rahul Dravid, who made 66, and Zaheer Khan, who added 51, contributed to that advantage.Harbhajan was seen as the greatest threat to New Zealand's batsman on what had become a good batting pitch and his outstanding effort on Saturday clinched a comprehensive win.The second Test starts in Napier on Thursday.

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