Wellington, Feb 15 :
Ajinkya Rahane’s maiden Test hundred and half-centuries from Shikhar Dhawan (98) and Mahendra Singh Dhoni (68) put India in complete control of the second and final Test at the end of day two against New Zealand at the Basin Reserve here Saturday.
India, who had bowled out New Zealand for 192 in the first innings, scored 438 all out, opening up a 246-run lead. At the close of play, the Kiwis were 24 for one in the second innings and trailed India by 222 runs.
After Ishant Sharma’s six-wicket heroics on the first day, Rahane (118) stole the show on day two with his first Test century.
However, it was opener Dhawan who started the run feast, falling just two runs short of his third Test hundred.
Dhoni and Rahane’s 120-run stand for the seventh wicket cemented India’s lead and put them in the driver’s seat.
India hammered home their advantage in the final session, scoring 137 runs off just 114 balls.
Dhoni was particularly aggressive, smashing nine fours and a six while Rahane too opened up after his century, carting the New Zealand bowlers all over ground.
The hosts’ brilliant fielding bailed them out and saved them more punishment. Rahane was the biggest scalp as Trent Boult’s brilliant one-hander running back gave the Kiwis a much-needed break.
Ravindra Jadeja (26) and Zaheer Khan (22) too chipped in towards the end, taking the attack to the New Zealand bowlers.
New Zealand, in reply, were immediately on the backfoot as Peter Fulton fell victim to Zaheer in the second over.
Hamish Rutherford (18 batting) and Kane Williamson (4 batting) were the two unbeaten batsmen at stumps.
Earlier, an unbeaten 72-run partnership between Rahane and Dhoni took India to 301 for six at tea.
The only blip in an otherwise near perfect session for India was the fall of Virat Kohli (38).
Though, it was all smooth sailing for the visitors. India were made to work hard for the 100 runs after lunch as New Zealand adopted negative bowling tactics.
New Zealand pacers Jimmy Neesham and Neil Wagner, in particular, constantly bowled well outside the off-stump, trying to contain the run flow before the new ball.
This resulted in many balls being left alone and thus, slowing the run-rate.
After playing a very patient knock, Kohli finally lost his concentration, going after a wide ball and Wagner and managing to hit straight to the short-cover fielder.
This set the stage for the Indian captain and Dhoni didn’t disappoint as he went on to the offensive from the word go. Wagner was at the receiving end as Dhoni carted him for four consecutive fours.
Dhoni attacked any ball close to him while Rahane played the perfect sheet anchor role.
In the morning session, India scored 101 runs losing three wickets in the process.
Ishant Sharma (26), who had picked up six wickets in the Kiwis’ first innings, batted brilliantly to keep the opposition bowlers at bay, early in the morning session.
It took a one handed catch from wicket-keeper B.J Watling to finally dismiss Ishant.
Watling was again at hand to snap up Dhawan’s edge off the bowling of pacer Tim Southee. Dhawan had looked well on his way to a third Test hundred and his maiden century in New Zealand but lost his concentration during a crucial moment.
Rohit Sharma (0) once again failed to deliver. He fished for a ball well outside the off-stump, managing only to drag it back on to his stumps.
His continuous failures will have the dressing room worried and time could be running out for the right-hander.