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India in control of third test

INDIA was closing in on its first test series victory in New Zealand since 1968 as it extended its lead to 233 runs at close of play on the second day of the third and final test in Wellington yesterday.

The visitors, who hold a 1-0 series lead after a 10-wicket victory in the first game in Hamilton, were 51 for one at the close after Zaheer Khan's seventh five-wicket haul helped bowl the hosts out for 197 in their first innings.

Zaheer finished with five for 65 from 18 overs as New Zealand conceded a 182-run lead after it had bowled India out for 379 earlier in the day.

The visitors extended that lead with only the loss of opener Virender Sehwag, who blasted three boundaries in his seven-ball innings of 12.

Sehwag was caught at first slip by Ross Taylor when a vicious bouncer from Chris Martin brushed his glove.

Gautam Gambhir was on 28 while Rahul Dravid was on nine as the shadows lengthened across the ground.

New Zealand reverts back from daylight saving time today, which will undoubtedly shorten the remaining days' play by at least 30 minutes in the fading light.

Zaheer took advantage of a blustery northerly wind to produce some swing and sharp bounce, though New Zealand's batsmen did not help themselves with poor shot making.

"He had an extra yard on his, looking up at the screen it was his normal speed, but he bent his back and hurried the batsmen up a little bit," Taylor said of Zaheer's bowling. "He bowled extremely well."

India had a chance of enforcing the follow on after tea when Tim Southee (16) mistimed a hook off Zaheer, who took the skied catch for his fifth wicket and left New Zealand 160 for eight.

Iain O'Brien (19) and Brendon McCullum (24), however, guided the hosts past the 180 needed to make India bat again when O'Brien sent a thick edge past gully for a boundary.

McCullum was then snared by Harbhajan Singh with the score on 181 to become wicketkeeper Mahendra Singh Dhoni's fifth catch of the innings.

Harbhajan also dismissed Taylor (42) and James Franklin (15), while Ishant Sharma and Munaf Patel grabbed one each.

Munaf's dismissal of O'Brien was Dhoni's sixth catch, which helped the captain equal the record for the most dismissals in an innings between the two countries.

Compatriot Syed Kirmani took five catches and made a stumping in Christchurch in February 1976.


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