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Draw The Aim For NZ

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Fuseworks Media
Draw The Aim For NZ

By Chris Barclay of NZPA

Wellington, April 7 NZPA - Gautam Gambhir has barely put a foot wrong facing the new ball but Brendon McCullum hopes New Zealand's remaining batsmen are capable of proving the Indian opener's crystal ball is on the blink.

Gambhir predicted New Zealand would be unable to prevent India completing a 2-0 series win at the Basin Reserve today when the third and final test ends.

The prediction he issued after scoring 167 during India's second innings on Sunday seemed valid when New Zealand's slumped to 84 for four in pursuit of a massive 617 victory target yesterday.

New Zealand recovered to 167 for four at stumps -- 450 short of levelling the series though their only priority is to play out the final quota of overs today.

That responsibility initially falls on Ross Taylor, who has made 69 from 94 balls, and James Franklin (26).

The pair added 83 for the fifth wicket in difficult conditions yesterday before bad light curtailed play 21 overs before the scheduled close.

New Zealand had another three sessions to survive today though bad light -- and potentially bad weather -- ensures the home side will not have to the standard allocation of 90 overs.

Gambhir reckoned two days would be more than enough to add to India's 10-wicket win in Hamilton last month, McCullum understood his optimism.

"I suppose you're always going to talk up your own team," New Zealand's vice-captain said.

"It's good for them they've got that confidence in their side. For us, we've got to try and learn to be that confident and learn to bat five sessions.

"If we can do that we'll grow our own confidence in our ability to do that."

New Zealand's second innings has lasted 56 overs so far and spanned 2-1/2 sessions, although bad light shaved at least an hour off the run to stumps last night.

Considering New Zealand's first bat lasted only 65 overs on Saturday, they were at least on track to better that sub-standard performance.

New Zealand coach Andy Moles claimed a moral victory before India were forced to save the second test in Napier after being forced to follow on. McCullum said emulating India today would also be a minor triumph.

"If we can get out of this test match with a draw, whilst it's not the ideal result and we know we won't win the series or even level it, we'll know we have showed some character," McCullum said.

New Zealand's top order failed to make a huge impression against Zaheer Khan and Harbhajan Singh again yesterday but McCullum hoped the middle and lower order could do the job.

"We've got a partnership formed and hopefully we can try and get out of this one," he said.

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