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India wins NZ series to end drought

INDIA'S first test series win in New Zealand in 41 years is a big achievement but it set a benchmark that future teams would have to live up to, captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni said yesterday.

India won its first series in New Zealand since 1968 when the third and final test at the Basin Reserve was abandoned on the fifth day due to rain and fading light, with New Zealand 281 for eight chasing an improbable 617 for victory.

India won the first match of the best of three series in Hamilton by 10 wickets then batted for more than two days to save the second match in Napier.

"You have set the benchmark and the next time you come to New Zealand, people expect you to win," Dhoni told reporters after the game was abandoned and series clinched. "We have achieved something that is big, but the tough part is to maintain it.

"It's never easy for cricketers. If you have not achieved something there is pressure to do so. Once you have achieved something then there is pressure to sustain it. Nothing is easy.

"I think it will be tougher for the next guys who come here."

India comprehensively outplayed New Zealand in the first and third matches, though Dhoni was diplomatic when asked if he felt the 1-0 result was a fair reflection of their efforts.

"It's not what you are getting out of it, it's how much effort you put in and what you wanted to achieve," he said.

"3-0 is what you always look for, because there is nothing beyond that. But you have to be comfortable with your target and what you want to achieve."

Dhoni said one of the pleasing aspects of the tour had been the development of the side throughout, and the fact it had been a team effort rather than relying on one specific player.

"Everybody contributed ... each and every batsman scored at some point and the same with the bowlers," he added.

"The wickets were on the flatter side, not much for the bowlers, so they had to keep changing their plans and improvising at times and the same applied with the batsmen.

"I think India outplayed us in most departments apart from our first morning session when we had them 200 for six, from then on in, it's been India's game," said Kiwi captain Daniel Vettori.

"But there's been some pleasing aspects, the fight that Ross Taylor and James Franklin showed to give us even a chance of saving the game was pleasing.

"But India obviously dominated the game."

New Zealand had resumed the fifth day on 167 for four with Ross Taylor on 69 and Franklin on 26, with their intention to hold out until the forecast poor weather arrived in the afternoon.

Taylor, who was recalled on Monday after initially being given out for nine, moved comfortably through to his fourth test century, which he achieved when he flicked a Harbhajan Singh delivery to fine leg for his 15th boundary.

Harbhajan, however, had the final say when Taylor played around a delivery that did not turn and was bowled for 107 to end the 142-run partnership with Franklin.

Wicketkeeper Brendon McCullum survived a chance while on nought when Munaf Patel dropped him at mid-off from a Sachin Tendulkar full toss, but he failed to capitalize when an edge rebounded of Dhoni's gloves to Rahul Dravid.

Tendulkar then trapped Franklin in front for 49 to leave New Zealand in deep trouble on 254 for seven at lunch, and with just the bowlers remaining, little hope of batting out the day.


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