Bad light stopped play early on day two with Rohit (67*) and Rahane (23*) sharing an unbeaten 79-run stand as the duo led India's fightback after losing early wickets. (AP Photo)
Auckland: India managed to recover from early blows and were 130 for 4 in reply to New Zealand 503 when bad light forced the umpire's to call off the play early on day two of the second Test at Eden Park on Friday. Rohit Sharma (67*) and Ajinkya Rahane (23*), who were at the crease when play was abandoned for the day have added a 79-run stand between them for the fifth wicket.
Brendon McCullum's sparkling 224 guided New Zealand to a commanding 503 in their first innings despite a six-wicket haul by pacer Ishant Sharma. India are still 373 runs behind Kiwis' first innings total and require another 174 runs to avoid follow-on.
India's top-order once again performed miserably as they lost Shikhar Dhawan (0), Cheteshwar Pujara (1) and Virat Kohli (4)in quick succession to some inspired seam bowling by Trent Boult and Tim Southee. Since that 187 on debut, Shikhar Dhawan has scored only 132 runs in the following six innings and once again failed to make any impact as he was out off the second ball. Boult delivered an excellent ball short of good length, coming in to Dhawan and he got a leading edge flying straight to Kane Williamson at gully. The big wicket came three balls later when Pujara threw his bat at a delivery pitched full and wide and was caught by the wicketkeeper.
Tim Southee compounded India's problems by getting rid of Virat Kohli (4). He bowled a nasty bouncer that flicked Kohli's thumb and lobbed straight to the second slip. Murali Vijay (26) did all the hard work before Neil Wagner dismissed him with a beauty to reduce India to 51 for 4. He added 41 runs with Rohit but had no answer to that Wagner delivery. Rohit then staged India's recovery along with Rahane. Rohit especially looked in classy touch as he hit eight fours and a six off Williamson during his unbeaten 67. The stylish Mumbai batsman survived the initial jitters but looked well settled after spending some time at the crease.
Earlier, skipper McCullum's sparkling double ton helped New Zealand reach a commanding first innings score of 503. McCullum played a captain's knock by scoring 224 off 307 balls with the help of 29 boundaries and five sixes as New Zealand were finally all out in 121.4 overs. Ishant on the other hand got his fourth five-for in Test cricket ending with figures of 6 for 134 in 33.4 overs.
This was McCullum's second double century in Tests and also became the fourth Kiwi player to achieve the feat of scoring two or more double hundred in Tests. He joined Stephen Fleming, Glenn Turner and Matthew Sinclair in the list. Starting from the overnight score of 329 for 4, it didn't take much time for McCullum and Corey Anderson (77) to get going as the duo shared 133 runs between them. Anderson was dismissed for 77 runs by Ishant.
Ishant then struck again as he got better of Bradley-John Watling (1), who was caught at third slip by Shikhar Dhawan. Southee then took the attack to India and added some quick runs to pile more misery on the visitor's bowlers. He scored 28 from 21 balls before finally getting bowled to Mohammad Shami. Ishant then came to bowl again and completed his five-for with the wicket of Ish Sodhi. The New Zealand captain was the last man out when Ravindra Jadeja did brilliant balancing act to catch at the ropes.
For India Ishant was pick of the bolwers with six wickets, Jadeja and Shami picked one wicket each and Zaheer Khan (2 for 132) didn't add to his overnight tally. On Thursday, India won the toss and reduced New Zealand to 30 for 3, before a 221-run fourth-wicket stand between McCullum and Williamson (113) put them back in control of the proceedings.