The Indians fought the good fight on Day 2 featuring the likes of Virat Kohli’s double delight of 211 followed by Ajinkya Rahane’s 188 runs and Rohit Sharma’s cursory cameo of 51 helped the side boast 557/5 declare.
For Kiwis to steer clear of whitewash at the hands of the hosts, they had to play with grit and persistence to sustain in the match. The bowlers failed to hit the right lines thereby Indians took the advantage and scored plenty of runs.
New Zealand on after leaking runs and having a lump of time to climb, they started off well. The openers were able to read and tackle the balls quite well against Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja in which they struggled in the previous matches.
The visitors ended the Day 2 with 28/0 and began their next day quite impressively. For a team to reach mammoth totals, someone from the top-order needs to step and lay a good foundation for the other batters. This is the first time in the ongoing series,
This is the first time in the ongoing series, Kiwis managed to clinch 100-run partnership, Martin Guptill and Tom Latham were proud of the contribution. Indian bowlers were put in a dark shadow by these two batsmen and the hunger for claiming wickets are nowhere to be seen from India’s perspective.
After the 118-run essential stand between the duo, Latham on 53 runs (7 fours) looked to chip to the mid-wicket area off Ravi Ashwin but got a leading edge straight in the safe pair of Ashwin’s hands. Latham’s wicket before lunch gave Indians some hope of a rebound.
On the contrary, Guptill already got to his half-century and the first in the series before Latham left the pitch. Kane Williamson came in just before the lunch and managed to toss well to the situation alongside Guptill.
After the lunch, just when Kiwis started to steady things under control, Ravi Ashwin was brought back into the attack. The decision for Kohli to give the ball to Ashwin took no time at all and for that decisive plan, Ashwin brought back smiles on player’s faces by rattling the stumps for which Kane Williamson was dismissed on a paltry of 8 runs.
When the Kiwis lost two wickets with Ashwin costed damage, there is no other way for Kiwis but to bat calmly and cope with the situation. For Ross Taylor, who normally struggles with the spin showed no improvement this time as he got an inside edge to the bat off Ashwin’s bowling, landed safely in the hands of Rahane at slip position.
Having known that Kiwis failed to convert well in terms of spin bowling in the ongoing series, Virat Kohli rotated the ball to Ashwin and Jadeja to reap rewards. Run outs in Test cricket is something to be a line of thinking and especially when a player gets run out by a bowler’s feather touch in his fingers to hitting the stumps it’s really an unfortunate one.
Luke Ronchi hit the ball at the non-striker’s end off Ashwin’s bowling and Ashwin managed to pull off a glimpse of touch with the ball and directly hit the stumps during when Guptill was a fraction short out of the crease as Guptill left the pitch for a well-played 71 runs.
Ronchi also didn’t last long just after Guptill’departure as once again a brilliant bowling from Ashwin forced Ronchi to play the turn but got an edge and the ball tossed to Saha’s gloves and bounced to Rahane for a catch. Just like Ross Taylor who dismissed for a duck, Ronchi too left the pitch without scoring.
Ashwin’s trick did the damage for the Kiwis when the visitors were tumbling at 150/5. The Kiwis were already in a big trouble and desperately needed some runs to avoid the follow-on. Neesham and BJ Watling ensured to stitch together a brief 51-run stand before Watling was caught at Slips off Jadeja’s bowling.
However, Neesham continued to play his natural innings and got going quite well against the dominant Indian bowlers. Neesham’s half-century with grit and persistence gave some hope for the team. But, the Indians fought back well when Jadeja struck Santner out for 22 when Kohli caught him.
If there is one all-rounder who could hit the peak in all aspects of the game is undoubtedly Ravichandran Ashwin. Ashwin sent Neesham on 71 for an LBW and the second new ball has done the trick for the Indians. It was Ashwin’s day, for his spectacular bowling, that earned him 20th 5-wicket-haul in Tests.
Ashwin didn’t stop just after his record and as still there were two wickets left to wrap up the Kiwis. The tail-enders were given a test to get along the spinners. Matt Henry was dropped by Ashwin but hit the stumps quite nicely to dismiss Matt Henry for 18, the replay showed that Henry failed to land the bat in the crease and thereby making way back to his dressing room.
With just a wicket left for India to complete the New Zealand’s innings, Jadeja was brought back into the attack but couldn’t terminate the innings. Then Ashwin came in and dismissed Trent Boult for a duck in the second ball of his bowling as a thick top-edge went directly to Pujara in the mid-wicket area.
New Zealand were bowled out for 299 runs for which India’s comprehensive bowling efforts helped the side gain a lead of 258 runs. Indian openers Murali Vijay and Cheteshwar Pujara got off to a slow start and garnered 18 runs at the end of Day 3 with two days left.
India 557/5 decl. & 18/0 (Murali Vijay 11*) lead New Zealand 299 (Martin Guptill 72, James Neesham 71, Tom Latham 53; Ravichandran Ashwin 6-81) by 276 runs.