x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Harbhajan's career-best knock hurts Black Caps

Harbhajan Singh struck a career-best 69 before India picked up two early wickets to put New Zealand under pressure on the second day of the first Test.

Indian cricketer Harbhajan Singh plays a shot during the second day of the first Test match between India and New Zealand in Ahmedabad yesterday.
Indian cricketer Harbhajan Singh plays a shot during the second day of the first Test match between India and New Zealand in Ahmedabad yesterday.

AHMEDABAD // Harbhajan Singh struck a career-best 69 before India picked up two early wickets to put New Zealand under pressure on the second day of the first Test yesterday.

Harbhajan hit three sixes and five fours in his 97-ball knock to steer India's first innings to 487 after the hosts had been reduced to 412-8 on a deteriorating wicket at the Sardar Patel Stadium in Ahmedabad.

At stumps, New Zealand were 69 for two, trailing the Indians by 418 runs with eight wickets in hand. Brendon McCullum (38) and Ross Taylor (18) were the not-out batsmen.

"I am pleased that I could contribute with the bat," Harbhajan said. "Their bowlers bowled their hearts out, especially Daniel [Vettori] and [Jeetan] Patel, as the wicket had nothing much to offer. We have got enough runs on the board. We just need to ensure that we bowl according to our plans and get the wickets."

Paceman Zaheer Khan gave India an early breakthrough when he had opener Tim McIntosh caught behind in the third over without scoring, while left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha bowled BJ Watling to reduce the Kiwis to 27 for two.

But McCullum, opening the innings for the first time in Tests, held on steadily, hitting seven fours during his two-hour stay at the wicket.

Earlier, left-arm spinner Vettori finished with the best figures of 4-118, sending back MS Dhoni (10), Khan (one) and Harbhajan after taking the wicket of Virender Sehwag (173) on Thursday.

New Zealand had fought back in the last 25 minutes before lunch to pick three quick Indian wickets, including that of Sachin Tendulkar for 40.

But the Black Caps were frustrated by the ninth wicket stand of 66 between Harbhajan and Ojha, which helped cement India's advantage ahead of today's third day.