India take complete control against New Zealand

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The Independent Online

Rahul Dravid fell nine runs short of a double century as India established a huge first-innings lead in the decisive third Test against New Zealand.

Dravid (191) shared a 193-run sixth-wicket stand with Mahendra Singh Dhoni to lead the hosts to a total of 566 for eight declared in reply to the Black Caps' 193.

New Zealand closed day three on 24 for one, needing 349 more runs to make India bat again, as Tim McIntosh fell early on.

Sachin Tendulkar started the day 57 not out as he went in search of a 50th Test century, but he could add just four more runs before he fell to debutant Andy McKay, sending an outside edge through to wicketkeeper Gareth Hopkins.

Laxman followed for 12, bowled off his pads by Chris Martin, before Daniel Vettori struck to send Suresh Raina back to the pavilion for just three, caught bat and pad at short leg.

Those quick wickets left India on 328 for five, but Dhoni joined Dravid in the middle and helped him past past 100, a landmark he reached with a clipped two off Vettori.

New Zealand had their chance to hit back shortly after lunch when Dhoni lofted a misjudged delivery from Vettori over mid-off, but McIntosh, who was running backwards for the catch, was unable to grasp the ball.

Dhoni built steadily on his lifeline to reach his 19th Test 50 while Dravid did not let up on the pressure, smashing McKay for two boundaries in the 126th over.

The duo tore into the Black Caps bowlers, as Dravid brought up his 150 with a boundary off McKay, while Dhoni powered on to move to within five runs of his century.

However, there was disappointment for the India captain, as his quick-fire innings ended in tame fashion on 98, when he was caught and bowled off a flighted delivery from Vettori.

New man Harbhajan Singh avenged his skipper, smashing Vettori for a six, but Dravid fell nine short of his double hundred with an attempted slog off Kane Williamson, which only found Martin Guptill at long on.

And Harbhajan did not last long, the tail-ender launching Martin high to mid-off where he was caught by Brendon McCullum a few overs before the declaration.

The cherry on the cake for India came when McIntosh was trapped leg before by Harbhajan for eight, leaving McCullum (15 not out) and Hopkins (one not out) to see out the day.