India Vs South Africa

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    Middle-order key as India chase history in Auckland

    India were 87 for 1 at the end of day three and need 320 more runs to win the first Test and go 1-0 up in the two-match series.

    With two days remaining and 320 more runs to win, India ended day three at 87 for 1 (Shikhar Dhawan 49*, Cheteshwar Pujara 22*). Can the visitors do it? Draw is not an option, either India overhauls the gargantuan target of 407 or succumbs in doing so.

    India could only manage to add 72 runs on day three to their overnight score and were bowled out for 202 handing New Zealand a 301-run lead. What India needed was an inspired bowling performance and at lunch the Indian seamers had left New Zealand reeling at 15 for 4. But in the second session the intensity didn't drop down as the visitors kept chipping in regular wickets to skittle out the Kiwis for 105.

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    A good start to the chase was important with all the onus on Murali Vijay and Dhawan and the openers looked at ease before their 36-run stand was ended when Vijay got a thin edge to the wicketkeeper down the leg. The key for India will be the morning session on day four and the middle-order need to put up some stomach for fight to keep the team in the hunt.

    The vulnerability of the Indian batting, especially the middle-order was exposed in the first innings and the batsmen like Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli and MS Dhoni down the order need to contribute with the bat. A Brendon McCullum-like innings is required from these batsmen if India dreams of pulling off a historic win at the Eden Park.

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    Dhawan batting on 49 has a great opportunity to pull back things in his favour after going through a lean patch for a longer period of time. But Pujara has a crucial role to play on Sunday because of his solid technique and patience to spend more time at the crease.

    No team has ever scored 348 to win a Test match on New Zealand soil and India has the batting to better the record and go up in the series. The bowlers have done their job and now it's time for the batsmen to redeem themselves.

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