Hyderabad, Aug 25 (IANS) India tightened noose on New Zeland but heavy rains in the post-lunch session forced the umpires to call off the play on the third day of the first cricket Test at the Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket Stadium here.
Over three-and-half hours of play was lost as the heavy downpour a few minutes before the tea left the ground unplayable. Soon play was officially called off for the day.
Though the rains subsided later, the heavy downpour had made play not possible. The super soakers were pressed into service for the second time in the day as the groundsmen began frantic efforts to drain the outfield.
It was also announced that the play would begin at 9 a.m. Sunday, half an hour before the scheduled time. However, with the sky still cloudy, the match officials will only be hoping for good weather.
Only 37.3 overs could be bowled on the third day though the match officals had already reduced the number of overs to 83 due to the late start of the play in the morning.
Bad weather had already resulted in the loss of one and half hour in this Test. Play started an hour late Saturay morning due to showers.
With two days still to go in this Test, India have an upper hand, requiring nine second inning wickets of New Zealand. For the visitors, only rains can save them.
The umpires called the covers in the post-lunch session around 2 p.m in anticipation of rain as dark clouds hovered over the stadium on the city outskirts. Within a few minutes, a heavy downpour forced the crowd to run for cover.
New Zealand were 41 for one in their second innings after India enforced follow-on when the rains stopped play. The visitors, who were bowled out for 159 in the first innings before lunch, were trailing by 238 runs. India scored 438 in their first innings.
For the second time in the match, Pragyan Ojha gave India the breakthrough when he trapped Martin Guptil (16, 3x4) leg before the wicket. The Kiwi opener, who survived a loud LBW appeal on the previous ball, padded up a full length delivery in front of the stumps and this time English umpire Ian Gould had no doubt.
Guptil also failed to capitalise on a chance he got in the previous over of the same bowler when Virat Kohli at second slip could not hold on to an outside edge. Ojha opened the bowling as New Zealand began their second innings post lunch after India enforced the follow-on.
Brendon McCullum and Guptil made a cautious start, ensuring that they didn't repeat the mistakes of the first innings. The first boundary came only in the 12th over when Guptil hit pacer Umesh Yadav through fine-leg. He also smashed two successive boundaries off Ojha before falling to him in his next over.
McCullum, who came under criticism for gifting away his wicket in the first inning, was more cautious now, hitting his first boundary after facing 57 deliveries. He was playing on 16 and Kane Williamson 3.
Earlier, India bowled out the visitors for a meagre 159 and, with a lead of 279 runs in the first innings, enforced the follow-on at lunch.
In the 19.3 overs bowled this morning, the New Zealand bottom-half, starting the day at 106/5, could not put up a fight and were all out at the stroke of lunch adding only 53 runs.
Off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin was the star of the day clinching the last three wickets in 2.3 overs, giving away just one run to finish with career-best figures of 6/31.
Bad weather delayed the start as rain in the morning led to the ground being covered. The match eventually started an hour late after the water was cleared off by the groundsmen.
As the Black Caps came in to bat, Umesh Yadav struck immediately taking Kruger van Wyk's (0) wicket in the second over of the day.Spinners Ashwin and Pragyan Ojha took advantage of the dry track and ripped through the Kiwi lower order. At 111/6, Doug Bracewell and James Franklin tried to consolidate their partnership.
However, Ojha with his flighted delivery, brought out Bracewell (17) who was stumped by skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni. Next batsman Jeetan Patel went for a drive on a volley by Ashwin, only to give a low catch to the spinner. Trent Boult (4) then edged one to short leg Gambhir. Last man in, Chris Martin, did defend but was bowled to bring the innings to a close.
Franklin remained unbeaten at 43 as he ran out of partners in quick succession.