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Black Caps just hold off India in First Test

By Chris Pike
9 February 2014 05:05PM EST

NEW Zealand has narrowly escaped with victory in the First Test in Auckland with India almost making the Black Caps pay for a disastrous second innings collapse.

New Zealand wrapped up the 40-run win at Eden Park on Sunday on Day 4 of the First Test of the two-match series against India, but not before the tourists put quite the scare through the Black Caps camp.

New Zealand took control of the Test on the opening day with Kane Williamson and Brendon McCullum rescuing the home team from being 3-30 with a 221-run partnership as the Black Caps went on to post a mammoth 503 in their first innings.

They then looked set to take out a massive victory when bowling India out for just 202 but that's when things began to get interesting.

Through a combination of careless batting and good Indian bowling, New Zealand was skittled out for just 105 in its second innings to keep India within a sniff of a remarkable victory chasing 407 to win.

And India gave the run chase quite a shake at one stage being 2-222 with Shikhar Dhawan finding form with a century, but New Zealand persevered and eventually bowled the visitors all out for 366 just 41 runs short of what would have been one of the more remarkable Test match victories.

Indian captain MS Dhoni won the toss and made the decision to send New Zealand in to bat on the opening day, and that decision looked an astute one with the Kiwis falling to 3-30 with Peter Fulton out for 13, Hamish Rutherford for six and Ross Taylor for three.

However, Williamson and captain McCullum then came together for New Zealand and put on an incredible partnership for the fourth wicket.

Both brought up centuries before Williamson was out for 113 late on the opening day with his innings coming in 172 balls and including 10 fours and two sixes.

His partnership with McCullum finished on 221 and then the skipper continued on for his highest second Test score ending up making 224 before being the last New Zealand wicket to fall on Day 2.

McCullum finished on 224 from 307 deliveries with his knock including 29 boundaries and five sixes.

He received some solid support as well with Corey Anderson making 77, Tim Southee 28 and Ish Sodhi 23 as New Zealand piled on 503 in its first innings and in quick time, taking up just 121.4 overs and scoring at a run rate of over four.

Ishant Sharma was the star with the ball for India finishing with 6-134 from 33.4 overs.

India then made a disastrous start to its first innings slumping to 3-10 with Dhawan out third ball for a duck, Cheteshwar Pujara for one and Virat Kohli for three, and they never really recovered.

Rohit Sharma did make a hard fought 72 with Ravindra Jadeja adding 30, Ajinkya Rahane 26 and Murali Vijay 26, but India managed just 202 to end the first inning trailing by a mammoth 301 runs.

Left-arm quick Neil Wagner claimed 4-64 for New Zealand with the ball with Southee taking 3-38 and Trent Boult 3-38.

New Zealand's task in its second innings was relatively simple and that was just to bat India into submission before having almost two days to bowl them out a second time for a comfortable win, but that isn’t what eventuated.

Out of nowhere, the Black Caps fell to an incredible 5-25 and only 41 from Taylor helped them even get into triple-figures.

In the end, New Zealand was bowled out for 105 late on Day 3 with a lead of only 406 that kept the door slightly ajar for India.

India's bowlers found something extra in that second innings with Sharma claiming 3-28, Mohammad Shami 3-37 and Zaheer Khan 2-23.

India then made a good start to its run chase putting on 36 for the first wicket before Vijay was out for 13, and then being in a solid position at 1-87 heading into Day 4.

However, the day started poorly when Southee had Pujara caught behind for 23 with the score 2-96 but Kohli and Dhawan then steadied things.

The pair put on a partnership of 126 before Kohli fell for 67, also caught behind by BJ Watling off Wagner.

India was then 3-222 with Dhawan having reached his X Test century.

He was joined by Sharma but when Dhawan was out for 115, also caught behind off Wagner, India's hopes took a big dive.

Rohit Sharma ended up making 19, Rahane 18, Dhoni 39, Jadeja 26 and Zaheer Khan 17 as India crept towards its target of 407 but eventually they fall just short of what would have been a remarkable victory.

Wagner was again the star with the ball for New Zealand finishing with 4-62 while Southee took 3-81 and Boult 3-86.

The Second Test will now begin in Wellington on Friday with India heading into it with momentum despite losing in Auckland.

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