Kolkata: New Zealand openers made a positive start after India set them a stiff 376-run target riding on wicketkeeper-batsman Wriddhiman Saha’s second unbeaten half-century of the second cricket Test in the pre-lunch session on day four here on Monday.
New Zealand were 55 without loss in their second innings at lunch, with their two confident-looking openers — Tom Latham (31) and Martin Guptill (24) — in the middle at the Eden Gardens.
The tourists still need 321 runs for an improbable victory, or have to bat out two full sessions and a day to save the three-match Test cricket series. They are trailing India 0-1.
Earlier, resuming at 227 for eight, India were all out for 263 in their second knock.
Saha, who had run out of partners in the first innings after scoring 54, once again anchored the lower order, remaining not out with 58 (120 b, 6×4) — his fourth Test half century.
The two overnight batsmen, Saha and Bhuvneshwar Kumar (23; 51 b, 2×4, 1×6) were involved in a 56-run partnership that helped India cross the 250-mark and set New Zealand a target which no team has ever achieved in the fourth innings at the iconic ground.
The stand was broken in the tenth over of the morning session when Bhuvneshwar misjudged the bounce of Neil Wagner’s delivery and offered an easy catch to short leg. It was Wagner’s 99th wicket in 25 Tests.
Saha, who started off cautiously during the day, opened up after Bhuvneshwar’s departure, hitting left-arm spinner Mitchell Santner for two consecutive fours, the first one a fine sweep past fine leg bringing up his 50 of 113 balls.
The innings finally ended 46 minutes into the morning session with Mohammed Shami playing down the wrong line to Trent Boult (3/38).
Matt Henry (3/59) and Santner (3/60) were the other principal wicket takers for the visitors.