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Wagner, Watling combine as New Zealand beats India by 40 runs in 1st test

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AUCKLAND, New Zealand - Neil Wagner took 4-62 as New Zealand dismissed India for 366 Sunday to win the first cricket test by 40 runs on a roller-coaster fourth day at Eden Park and take a 1-0 lead in the two-test series.

Wagner claimed the critical wickets of Shikhar Dhawan for 115, Virat Kohli (67) and captain MS Dhoni (39), while wicketkeeper BJ Watling took seven catches as New Zealand dramatically snuffed out India's bid to score 407 to win.

At times on the fourth day, India seemed to be progressing comfortably towards a win which would have made it only the fifth team in 2,118 tests to achieve victory by scoring more than 400 runs in the fourth innings.

But a minor collapse on either side of tea took the momentum out of India's run-chase.

Dhawan, who began the day on 49, became the anchor of the India innings through the first two sessions and worked with patience and caution to steer it towards an extraordinary test victory. Only Australia (418), against the West Indies in 2003, South Africa (414) against Australia in 2008, India (406) against the West Indies in 1976 and Australia (404) against England in 1948 have cracked the 400-run barrier in winning a test in the fourth innings.

But Wagner removed Dhawan shortly before tea and New Zealand quickly claimed the wickets of Ajinkya Rahane (18) and Rohit Sharman (19) to reduce India to 270-6 to leave the test in the balance.

The collapse coincided with the arrival of the second new ball, which was well used by Trent Boult, Tim Southee and then Wagner, a third seamer who excels when the ball is wearing.

The tourists counterattacked with Ravindra Jadeja, India's last recognized batsman, blasting 26 from 21 balls with four fours and a six, before holing out from the bowling of Trent Boult in the seventh over of the second new ball, leaving India 324-7, still 83 runs from victory.

Zaheer Khan made 17 and nudged India to 349-8, still needing 58 runs but with Dhoni facing a dwindling pool of partners. The Indian captain tried to farm the strike and advance the run chase as quickly as possible but Wagner then removed Zaheer and struck India a mortal blow by dismissing Dhoni, the ninth man out, at 362.

New Zealand celebrated as it took a 1-0 lead in the two-test series but, amid its celebrations, there was a realization that it had had a lucky escape.

It dominated the match over the first two days, scoring 503 after being sent into to bat on a green-top pitch, then dismissed India for 202 to take a 301-run first innings lead.

Captain Brendon McCullum then made a major miscalculation by deciding not to enforce the follow on and, batting again in seamer-friendly conditions, New Zealand was dismissed for 105 in 41 overs in its second innings.

That left it with a much smaller total to defend than should have been the case. Though India's fourth innings run chase was historically unlikely, New Zealand had forfeited its commanding position in the match and left itself vulnerable.

"After not enforcing the follow-on we didn't play well but their bowling was exceptional too," McCullum said. "Everyone has got their own opinion.

"You have to make that decision and you live and die by that decision. Thankfully we are living by it."

They owed their victory in large part to combination of Wagner and Watling who are both South African-born.

"It's an incredible feeling," Wagner said. "I'm absolutely overwhelmed.

"I think it's something that will stick in my mind for the rest of my life. It's one for the memory box, something I've worked for for a long time and it's a pretty good feeling.

"Everyone stuck at it well, we kept on believing, we kept on fighting and we got the result."

Dhoni said the Indian bowlers had performed exceptionally well to drag their team back into the match after the first innings.

"I don't think we batted really well in the first innings," he said. "Second innings, quite a few of our batsmen batted really well."

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