Hamilton: New Zealandís opening bowlers exploited a tailor-made seamerís wicket and yet another spineless batting display by the Indian team to leave the visitors reeling at 92 for eight at stumps on the second day of the final Test Friday.
Sachin Tendulkar and other big names in Indiaís batting line-up were unable to cope with a spiteful greentop on which the ball swung wildly. India, who were humbled in the first Test, stare at another possible defeat although more than one-and-half dayís play has already been lost due to rain.
After a complete washout on the opening day, Fridayís play was affected by overnight rain and wet ground conditions, ruining the first two sessions.
Only V.V.S. Laxman, who made 23, and Harbhajan Singh, who hit five boundaries in his breezy nine-ball 20, managed to get into double figures as the Indians succumbed meekly.
After the Indians had been put into bat, opening bowler Darryl Tuffey, who took four wickets for 12, led the New Zealand onslaught against the much-touted visitorsí batting line-up, which has now wilted in three successive innings under unfavourable conditions in this country.
The New Zealanders captured eight wickets in only 37.1 overs after a late start to the match on the second day.
India lost opener Sanjay Bangar in the very second over, caught in the gully by Jacob Oram while trying to force a shot to Tuffey on the on-side.
That was just the beginning of Indiaís nightmare as some of the most reputed batsmen returned to the pavilion one after another without leaving any impression. Virender Sehwag, Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid became victims of a combination of accurate bowling and the highly unpredictable behaviour of the pitch.
Sehwag, who had failed in both innings in the first Test, was rendered helpless against an awkwardly rising delivery from Shane Bond which the batsman only managed to scoop to Mark Richardson at forward short leg.
Tendulkar and Dravid, who hit a half-century each in Wellington, were also dismissed cheaply, both victims of Tuffey. They made nine each, leaving India tottering at 40 for five in the 21st over.
In between, captain Sourav Ganguly fell in a familiar fashion, giving a regulation catch in the slips after remaining undecided whether to leave a Tuffey delivery or go for his shot.
With their top five batsmen back in the pavilion, it seemed India would be bowled out for less than 81, their lowest score against New Zealand (registered at Wellington in 1976).
But Laxman and Parthiv Patel showed some promise for a few overs, putting on 24 runs for the sixth-wicket, the highest partnership. Laxman, who got a pair in the first Test, played a couple of attractive shots and hit four boundaries during his 46-ball stay before playing a Bond delivery on to his stumps.
Harbhajan hit Bond for five boundaries in his brief innings before being clean bowled by the bowler off a beautiful yorker.
Play was called off with five balls remaining in the day when Zaheer Khan was bowled by Oram for nought. Patel remained unbeaten on eight, having braved the conditions for 44 balls.
Bond finished with three for 33, Tuffey scalped four for 12.
The Indians left out Ajit Agarkar in this match and replaced him with Tinu Yohannan. New Zealand retained their team which had won the first Test by ten wickets. (PTI)