Bangalore: The Indian bowlers hunted the whole of Sunday and returned home with just five New Zealand victims. That left the scoreboard reading India 583 for 7 declared and New Zealand 211for six after the third day of the third and final Test in Ahmedabad.
The visiting team, 18 for one at stumps on Saturday, had come this far by the end of Sunday but still has a long way to go to escape defeat from this match. How long could they delay the inevitable was the question after Sunday's play. All hopes of India running through the New Zealand first innings on Sunday itself were destroyed by some resolute batting by the Kiwis skipper Stephen Fleming (48), Nathan Astle (68 not out) and Chris Cairns (18 out).
Fleming and Astle helped their team recover from a nasty spot of 65 for 4 to 135 for five before Fleming was lured by Javagal Srinath to snick a catch to wicket keeper M S K Prasad. Adam Parore, the new man, was as determined as ever and looked all set to provide Astle the needed support. At last at 166 Kumble trapped Parore leg before wicket. India's hopes brightened at that juncture.
But Astle found yet another diligent partner in Chris Cairns. This seventh wicket pair denied further success for the home team that tried its luck by taking the new ball towards the end of the day. The Astle-Cairns pair added 45 runs for the day.
More than the runs, it was the pair's willingness to stay there at the middle for long that frustrated the Indian attack. This pair has earned yet another day to fight. This morning, Kumble unleashed two quick blows to reduce New Zealand to 33 for 3. Vijay Bharadwaj (substituting for Dravid) consumed night watchman Daniel Vettori at forward short-leg.
Then Sourav Ganguly dived full length forward from short extra-cover position to snap up a nice catch. That marked the end off Gary Stead who really looked dangerous from India's point of view. Stead who had flown to India to replace an injured Craig McMillan did look competent enough to lead a New Zealand rally.