Cricket: Taylor's century, then rain, rescue Black Caps

India clinched its first test series win in New Zealand in 41 years when the third test was drawn after a rain-shortened final day today.

Ross Taylor's fourth test century and the arrival of forecast rain allowed New Zealand to hold on for a draw when defeat looked certain.

Showers delayed play soon after 2pm when New Zealand were clinging on at 281 for eight, still 336 runs short of their victory target.

India needed just two wickets to complete a 2-0 series victory.

Captain Daniel Vettori was unbeaten on 15 and Iain O'Brien was not out 19 when the players retreated to the pavilion one ball after India took the second new ball.

India won the opening test by 10 wickets in Hamilton before the second test in Napier was drawn.

Earlier, Taylor made the most of a reprieve to craft his second century of the series but it wasn't enough as India chipped away at the New Zealand batting order in an extended first session

Recalled on nine yesterday after television replays showed he had been mistakenly given out to a bumped ball catch, Taylor produced a resolute 107 as New Zealand tried to hold on for a draw.

Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni's decision to bowl Sachin Tendulkar for the first time on tour shortly after noon proved a masterstroke as the part-time spinner took two for 26 from six overs.

Taylor had earlier advanced from his overnight score of 69.

He required another 64 balls to reach his century, which arrived when an uppish flick off Harbhajan Singh flew between wicketkeeper Dhoni and Virender Sehwag at leg gully for his 15th boundary.

Taylor's hundred was the 25-year-old's second in consecutive tests, following his 151 in the drawn second test at Napier last week.

He provided the bulk of a record fifth-wicket stand for New Zealand against India of 142 with Franklin, but was dismissed nine balls after celebrating his century when he was beaten by a full pitched delivery from Harbhajan.

Taylor and Franklin eclipsed the previous partnership record of 140 compiled by Craig McMillan and Adam Parore at Hamilton in 1999.

The end of Taylor's 4-1/2 hour innings was followed soon after by McCullum, who failed to profit from a letoff when he had yet to score.

McCullum was dropped third ball by Munaf Patel off Tendulkar but the Indian legend claimed New Zealand's vice-captain for six when he was caught at slip by Rahul Dravid.

In his next over Tendulkar then ended Franklin's innings on 49 when the left-hander played back to a ball that thudded into his pads.

Franklin spent 250 minutes at the crease, faced 171 balls and struck seven boudnaries.

Harbhajan had the leading figures of three for 55 from 30 overs al though Tendulkar's cameo dominated the session.

Scoreboard at the close of play Tuesday after the fifth day of the third cricket test between New Zealand and India at the Basin Reserve:

India 1st Innings: 379

New Zealand 1st Innings: 197

India 2nd Innings: 434-7 dec.

New Zealand, 2nd Innings

(Overnight 167-4)

Tim McIntosh c Dravid b Zaheer 4

Martin Guptill lbw b Harbhajan 49

Daniel Flynn b Zaheer 10

Ross Taylor b Harbhajan 107

Jesse Ryder c Dravid b Harbhajan 0

James Franklin lbw b Tendulkar 49

Brendon McCullum c Dravid b Tendulkar 6

Daniel Vettori not out 15

Tim Southee c Dhoni b Harbhajan 3

Ian O'Brien not out 19

Extras: (10b,2lb,1w,6nb) 19

TOTAL: (for eight wickets) 281

Overs: 94.3. Batting time: 434 minutes.

Fall of wickets: 1-30, 2-54, 3-84, 4-84, 5-226, 6-244, 7-253, 8-258.

Did not bat: Chris Martin.

Bowling: Zaheer Khan 19.3-6-57-2 (1w), Munaf Patel 13-4-22-0, Ishant Sharma 12-2-57-0 (1nb), Harbhajan Singh 33-8-59-3 (1nb), Yuvraj Singh 1-0-4-0, Virender Sehwag 7-0-25-0 (4nb), Sachin Tendulkar 9-0-45-2.

Umpires: Simon Taufel and Daryl Harper, Australia.

Match referee: Alan Hurst, Australia. TV umpire: Tony Hill, New Zealand.

Toss: won by New Zealand.

Result: match drawn.

Series: India wins the three-test series 1-0.

-AP, NZPA

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