Having remembered this, they decided to start playing like it.
New Zealand meanwhile, having briefly discarded the form book, must have accidentally stumbled upon it again, as they batted on the first day like the dicks (in Mark Greatbatch’s words) that got battered by Bangladesh in an ODI series before they came to India. The bulk of their paltry total of 193 came from two cripples in Brendon McCullum and Jesse Ryder, before Tim Southee’s lusty blows off a Harbhajan Singh over in the first session of the second day.
Remarkably, India managed this without talismanic seamer Zaheer Khan, who has sat out this Test with a groin injury. Ishant Sharma came in for Zaheer, and looked significantly better than in recent efforts for his figures of 4/43.
In reply, by the time I’d blinked once, Virender Sehwag had battered his way through and over the New Zealand fielders to chomp away at their minute lead, before yet again getting out to Daniel Vettori, chipping the ball back to the Kiwi skipper when a century looked to be calling. His opening partner Gautam Gambhir played with growing fluency, before chasing a Southee delivery outside off-stump and out caught behind.
This brought Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar together in the middle. Between the two of them, they have over 25,000 runs in Test cricket, just the men for the job when you want your team batting into a dominant position. Telling these two that they have plenty of time to score runs is like showing a red rag to a bull, only much more sedate, as they compiled their 17th century stand (the most between any batsmen).
With Tendulkar looking set, Vettori and co. might just need a minor miracle to deny Tendulkar his 50th Test century on the third day, let alone avoid falling at the last hurdle in a series where they’d worked so hard to silence doubters.