Drought-breaking Franklin laments flood of runs

After enduring 69 overs without a wicket, James Franklin's third cricket test against India could hardly have started better at the Basin Reserve.

But at the close of a frustrating day for New Zealand, Franklin shared his teammates disappointment as the last remnants of India's tail survived to bat on tomorrow.

India reached stumps at 375 for nine -- Ishant Sharma's 15 and 14 by Munaf Patel the final insult as the last pair helped the tourists recover superbly from 204 for six.

The Indian lower order lashed the bulk of the 185 runs added in the final 35-over session as New Zealand's luckless bowlers flagged.

Franklin, who ended a two-test drought when trapping Gautam Gambhir leg before wicket with his sixth ball, was as upbeat as possible.

"It's probably balanced at the moment," he said of the game situation.

"We got nine wickets in the day and the game is well progressed. As long as we can get that wicket quickly tomorrow and then set about batting for a day and a half, two days then that sets the game up well for us."

New Zealand might have been in a stronger position had luck been on their side.

"They got away with a few lucky shots and the ball didn't quite go to hand. Sometime's that's the way it can be with the tail," said Franklin, who acknowledged New Zealand had probably leaked 60 runs to many in the lead-in to stumps.

Franklin, who has one for 38 from 14 overs, felt 320 would have been a fairer reflection on the way a fluctuating day panned out but Harbhajan Singh's streaky 60 from 78 balls and Zaheer Khan's 33 from 23 were innings typified by riding their luck effectively.

Harbhajan's seventh test fifty -- and fifth in 15 months -- may not have been timed to perfection throughout but the spinner was delighted with his contribution when India looked to be vulnerable when he joined captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni.

"It was crucial to contribute lower down the order and if you look at the scoreboard we have got some decent runs," said Harbhajan, who clouted seven boundaries and a six.

"Thankfully me, Dhoni and all the other guys got some runs. Those 180-odd runs in the last session .... it was fantastic, a good effort."

Potentially fragile at 204 for six when the last specialist batsman Rahul Dravid was dismissed, Harbhajan was still confident the remaining batsmen could prolong the innings.

"Many teams would think they were in control but I knew that we have done it before and that there was a very good chance for me to go out there in a pressure situation and deliver.

"Me and Dhoni we had a great partnership, those were crucial runs and obviously it will help us in the game."

Dhoni, scored 52, and Harbhajan put on 79 for the sixth wicket -- the first of four fruitful partnerships that kept New Zealand in the field longer than they imagined.

Khan and Harbhajan smacked 32 before the fast bowler dominated a ninth-wicket stand worth 33 with Sharma.

The last pair put on 28 at seven an over -- and also fulfilled an Indian goal.

"We were looking to bat the whole day and we achieved that,' Harbhajan said.

"It would have been nice to get these runs with losing six or seven wickets but we are still very happy."

NZPA

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