Bowlers rest up after drawn out stalemate

While the BLACKCAPS form batsmen had every right to feel good about themselves after the second cricket test stalemate with India, the bowlers could be forgiven for eyeing the series finale warily.

New Zealand's attempt to make Friday's test at Wellington's Basin Reserve a decider foundered on McLean Park yesterday when an unresponsive pitch and resolute batting saw three days of home side domination translate to a draw.

Daniel Vettori's ploy to enforce the follow on did not achieve the desired result when India successfully batted for more than two days to save the game and carry a 1-0 lead to the capital.

India could not seal their first test series here since the 1968 side won 3-1 but by occupying the crease for 180 overs in their second innings they might have harmed New Zealand's chances of sustaining a genuine challenge this weekend.

With only three days respite before they confront India's batting line-up for the last time this summer, New Zealand bowlers are at risk of being over cooked before they strive to take 20 wickets.

As Ishant Sharma, Zaheer Khan and Munaf Patel were watching their batsmen save India from Saturday afternoon their pace bowling counterparts Chris Martin, Iain O'Brien and James Franklin were consigned to donkey work.

New Zealand's attack eventually delivered 273.5 overs on the trot and although spinners Vettori and Jeetan Patel did more than their share and the part timers chimed in, spearhead Martin was bore a heavy burden.

The 34-year-old toiled for 54 overs across both innings in taking four for 175. O'Brien's two scalps for 160 came from 43.5 while Franklin bowled 36 without reward.

Vettori, who had no qualms about asking India to bat a second time, admitted the bowlers would have to be carefully managed before Friday's toss.

"The bowling loads were spread out pretty evenly but three days standing up does take some toll on bodies," he said.

"How we bounce back from that will be crucial and if we have to bowl first in Wellington I expect the same intensity the guys brought into this test match.

"I think the guys feel pretty good, but the next couple of days will be the true story.

"The fast bowlers did a hell of a lot of work, Chris Martin was asked to bowl at critical times," Vettori said, before the squad left for Wellington.

Vettori maintained it was the correct decision to bowl again on Saturday, reasoning it was New Zealand's opportunity to square the series.

"We'd just rolled them pretty quickly -- we'd had 17 overs to put them under a lot of pressure (on Saturday) and I wanted to run with that.

"We got the crucial wicket of (Virender) Sehwag but from then on in India batted resolutely throughout the whole next two days and made it difficult to take wickets."

The test was called off with about an hour to play yesterday with India leading by 162 with six wickets in hand.

Opener Gautam Gambhir led the fight back by batting 18 minutes short of 11 hours to score 137.

Still, Vettori said the team was upbeat as they eyed the end of India's tour.

New Zealand's 619 for nine declared contained several positives including Jesse Ryder's 201, Ross Taylor's 151 and 115 by Brendon McCullum.

"The ability to score those big runs should never be underestimated," Vettori said.

"Those performances were backed up by a magnificent first innings bowling spell from guys like Chris and Jeetan.

"I think the amount of pressure we put India under was fantastic. It was just the fact the wicket was just too good and India batted a lot more conservatively than they did in the first innings .... the chances weren't there on a wicket of that nature."

NZPA

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