Wellington, Apr.7 (ANI): Though rain played spoilsport on the fifth and final day of the third test match between India and New Zealand forcing a draw from absolute victory, India achieved the cherished goal of a series victory here after 41 years.
Chasing 617 runs for an improbable victory, New Zealand ended on 281 for the loss of eight wickets in their second innings. They scored 197 in their first essay. India scored 379 and 434 for the loss of seven wickets. Harbhajan Singh with four wickets and Zaheer Khan and Sachin Tendulkar with two wickets apiece were the main strike bowlers.
The last series victory took place in 1967, when India led by the Nawab of Pataudi swamped the Graham Dowling-led New Zealand squad 3-1.
Indian pacer Zaheer Khan had bowled just one delivery with the second new ball when the rain forced the players off the field 20 minutes after lunch, and prevented their return.
India were left to reflect on three dropped catches, while New Zealand might have argued that they were due a bit of luck after two decisions went against them.
They could have won it even before the heavens opened though. Tim Southee was given out caught behind off Harbhajan Singh, though the noise that got all the close-in fielders excited was actually bat hitting pad. Moments later, it was New Zealand that were the beneficiaries of umpiring largesse. Harbhajan turned one sharply and Daniel Vettori was palpably plumb, but Simon Taufel thought otherwise.
When Ishant Sharma then grassed a simple chance at square leg after Iain O'Brien had slogged Tendulkar, the Indians might have known it wasn't to be their day.
New Zealand were also left to ponder a poor decision against Brendon McCullum as their struggle for survival was compromised in a crazy passage of play just before the interval.
Zaheer had an early shout for leg-before against Franklin turned down, but the theme of the first hour was stout resistance. Taylor continued to feast on short and wide offerings from Ishant, and the Indian mood didn't improve when Gautam Gambhir failed to hold on to a chance at short leg after Franklin had popped one up off bad and pad. New Zealand added 38 before the drinks break, and soon after an airy flick down to fine leg off Harbhajan got Taylor to his century from just 158 balls.
Tendulkar was introduced soon after, but the frustration continued as Franklin edged one past slip for four. And it was left to the frontline spinner to strike, though relying on drift rather than turn to get the job done. Taylor's attempt to push the ball away was stymied by the movement through the air and Harbhajan's celebrations were certainly not muted as he yorked the key obstacle in India's path.
Soon after, Munaf Patel put down McCullum at mid-off off Tendulkar, but the second chance didn't go a long way. A ripping leg break spun past the bat and through to slip via Dhoni's gloves, but the impact of bat on the ground fooled the umpire into upholding India's appeal. And if that was a serious blow to New Zealand's hopes, worse was to follow, as Franklin who had eased his way to 49 was trapped in front by another delivery that turned sharply into him. (ANI)