Wellington: An unbeaten 72-run partnership between Ajinkya Rahane (64 batting) and Mahendra Singh Dhoni (39 batting) took India to 301 for six, 109 runs ahead of New Zealand, in the second and final Test at the Basin Reserve here Saturday.
The only blip in an otherwise near perfect session for India was the fall of Virat Kohli (38).
Though, it was all smooth sailing for the visitors. India were made to work hard for the 100 runs after lunch as New Zealand adopted negative bowling tactics.
New Zealand pacers Jimmy Neesham and Neil Wagner, in particular, constantly bowled well outside the off-stump, trying to contain the run flow before the new ball.
This resulted in many balls being left alone and thus, slowing the run-rate.
After playing a very patient knock, Kohli finally lost his concentration, going after a wide ball and Wagner and managing to hit straight to the short-cover fielder.
This set the stage for the Indian captain and Dhoni didn’t disappoint as he went on to the offensive from the word go. Wagner was at the receiving end as Dhoni carted him for four consecutive fours.
Dhoni attacked any ball close to him while Rahane played the perfect sheet anchor role.
Earlier, Shikhar Dhawan (98) put India nine runs ahead in the morning session.
It was an even session all round. India scored 101 runs, with New Zealand taking three wickets.
Ishant Sharma (26), who had picked up six wickets in the Kiwis’ first innings, batted brilliantly to keep the opposition bowlers at bay, early in the morning session.
It took a one handed catch from wicket-keeper B.J Watling to finally dismiss Ishant.
Watling was again at hand to snap up Dhawan’s edge off the bowling of pacer Tim Southee. Dhawan had looked well on his way to a third Test hundred and his maiden century in New Zealand but lost his concentration during a crucial moment.
Rohit Sharma (0) once again failed to deliver. He fished for a ball well outside the off-stump, managing only to drag it back on to his stumps.
His continuous failures will have the dressing room worried and time could be running out for the right-hander.