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Rains Saves NZ, Relaxed India Savour Overdue 1-0 Series Win

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Fuseworks Media
Rains Saves NZ, Relaxed India Savour Overdue 1-0 Series Win

By Chris Barclay of NZPA

Wellington, April 7 NZPA - The folly of playing cricket deep into autumn and India's delayed declaration allowed New Zealand to sneak a draw when the third and final test ended in anti-climax at the Basin Reserve here today.

India's refusal to budge from planning a victory target of more than 600 runs counted against them when forecast rain swept the ground shortly after lunch on the fifth and fifth day.

Set 617 for victory yesterday, New Zealand were 281 for eight when Daniel Vettori and Iain O'Brien gratefully took cover in the pavilion at 2.08pm.

When play was officially called off at 4.31pm New Zealand had escaped with a draw and their heaviest home defeat in history remains a 299-run loss to Pakistan in Auckland in 2001.

However, the result means this summer was the first season since 1994-95 that New Zealand have not won a test during a home season.

India, who won the first test before the second was drawn, emerged with their first test series win from seven attempts in New Zealand since 1968.

Set a record runchase -- or rather challenged to survive more than 5-1/2 sessions -- New Zealand never remotely looked capable despite Ross Taylor's fourth test century, and his second in consecutive tests.

Taylor, recalled to the crease yesterday after incorrectly being given out caught on nine to a bumped ball, resumed this morning on 69.

He required another 64 balls to reach his century, which arrived when an uppish flick off Harbhajan Singh flew between wicketkeeper Dhoni and Virender Sehwag at leg gully for his 15th boundary.

He was out nine balls later, virtually yorking himself when offspinner Harbhajan Singh fired a fullish delivery at middle stump.

But Taylor's 4-1/2 hour vigil at least offered New Zealand hope of batting until the weather deteriorated.

He provided the bulk of a record fifth-wicket stand for New Zealand against India of 142 with James Franklin, as they eclipsed the previous mark of 140 compiled by Craig McMillan and Adam Parore at Hamilton in 1999.

New Zealand's hopes of holding off for the rain had not been enhanced by the officiating of Australian umpires Daryl Harper and Simon Taufel.

Brendon McCullum was caught at slip by Rahul Dravid for six after a ball from Sachin Tendulkar reared up and deflected from Dhoni's gloves.

Harper upheld the appeal although television replays showed the delivery spun past McCullum's bat.

Tim Southee was also unlucky when Harbhajan, who ended with four for 59, had him caught at the wicket by Dhoni for three after bat brushed pad, not the ball.

Franklin might also consider himself unlucky to be adjudged leg before wicket to an enthusiastic Tendulkar on 49, although he flirted with danger by playing back to the part-time spinner.

Tendulkar's first competitive bowl of the tour proved a revelation.

It was thought his contribution had effectively ended when he was dismissed for nine in the tourists' second innings on Sunday but the 35-year-old bamboozled New Zealand's batsmen at will when he was thrown the ball after midday.

He immediately troubled Franklin and had McCullum dropped third ball by Munaf Patel at mid off.

Tendulkar unveiled a tricky mix of leg breaks, googlies and top spinners to be far more threatening than his final figures of two for 45 from nine overs indicated.

Franklin laboured 250 minutes at the crease, faced 171 balls and struck seven boundaries.

The danger of the weather closing in finally dawned on Dhoni when he summoned his No 1 pace bowler Zaheer Khan to take the second new ball in the bid for two quick wickets, but he only managed one delivery before the covers were called for.

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