Zaheer rips through Kiwis batting

Published: Saturday, April 4, 2009, 9:17 [IST]
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Wellington: A fiery Zaheer Khan ripped through the opposition batting line-up with a four-wicket haul to reduce New Zealand to 140-7 at tea, struggling to avoid the follow-on in reply to India's first innings of 379 on the second day of the third Test on Saturday.

The Indian pace spearhead claimed the first four wickets to fall, reducing New Zealand to 98-4 as it pursued a follow-on target of 179.

Off-spinner Harbhajan Singh then struck twice in successive overs to leave New Zealand more desperately placed at 125-6, tightening India's grip on the match and series.

Captain Daniel Vettori was out shortly before tea, leaving New Zealand's last recognized batsman Brendon McCullum at 7 not out and Tim Southee unbeaten on 1 at the break.

Zaheer set the New Zealand collapse in motion in the first session on Saturday, dismissing Martin Guptil for 17 and Daniel Flynn for 2 to leave New Zealand 64-2 at lunch.

He struck twice more in the second session, capturing the wickets of Tim McIntosh for 32 and dangerman Jesse Ryder for 3, to first raise the prospect that New Zealand might not surpass the follow-on total.

Harbhajan then removed Ross Taylor for 42 and James Franklin for 15 in consecutive overs to all but complete the dismantling of the New Zealand middle order.

India captain and wicketkeeper Mahendra Singh Dhoni claimed four catches by tea, teaming with Zaheer to remove Flynn and Ryder, before taking Taylor from Harbhajan's bowling and Vettori (11) off Ishant Sharma.

Franklin was out when he lazily swept a ball from Harbhajan to Virender Sehwag at short square leg.

Zaheer had figures of 4-46 from 14 overs at tea and Harbhajan 2-23.

Earlier, India resumed its first innings at 375-9 and added four runs from 13 balls before Sharma was out for 18. Munaf Patel was 15 not out and the pair had added 32 for India's last wicket.

Sachin Tendulkar remained India's top scorer with 62 while Harbhajan made 60, Dhoni 52 and Sehwag 48.

India leads the three-test series 1-0 after winning the first test at Hamilton by 10 wickets and is bidding strongly to become the first Indian team to win a test series in New Zealand in 41 years.

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