A revised take on Napier
Common sense would suggest that India will lose this second test at Napier by seven or eight wickets sometime on the fifth day. I don't think India will get bowled out for 300 odd again, but the problem is that India played only 93 overs in the first innings. Thus they've left themselves way too much time to play out in this test. To ensure themselves real safety, they'll need to bat till about tea on the fifth day. Perhaps an hour before tea will do as well. But if India get bowled out for 450 an hour before tea on the fifth day, they'll probably lose as well, for one would back New Zealand to chase down those runs. What India needed yesterday was a big 200 run partnership that sapped the Kiwis' spirits. Instead, no partnership exceeded 87, and Indian subsided from 252-5 to 305 all out (that slide is another reason I'm pessimistic about India's chances of survival). The amount of time left and New Zealand's lead also means that New Zealand should be able to sustain a reasonable amount of optimism even through any partnerships that might flower. All in all its a pretty sticky situation to be in.
Well, so some of my pessimism was unfounded. India did the right thing by only losing one wicket all day; one batsman scored a ton, and two others got 50s. About the only thing wrong they did all day was not score 63 more runs i.e., they haven't erased the deficit yet. That little fact means New Zealand will come out on the fifth day still feeling like they have a chance. Yuvraj and Karthik will have a second chance to show their steely natures (as opposed to the marshmallow impression they did in the first innings). The pre-lunch session will be quite tense today. Once India erase the deficit, every run from there on will deflate the Kiwis and knock the spring out of their step.
The most significant gain from yesterday's play was clearly Gambhir's batting. He's developing steadily, and some of the questions surrounding him (in my mind at least) are being answered on this tour. This Napier pitch is not the world's most hostile, but it still takes character to bat for a whole day in a situation like the one he found himself in. Kudos.