India move closer to victory

Cricket First Test : Ashwin sparkles as New Zealanders slump to 93 for four in second innings
Last Updated 25 September 2016, 21:17 IST

On a deteriorating surface that threw up occasional puffs of dust, the New Zealand batting wobbled for the second time in the contest. The conditions, exploited flawlessly by Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja, exposed the visitors’ familiar struggles against spin in the sub-continent.

The Black Caps were unsettled by the turn, and troubled by their unsure footwork to finish the fourth day of the first Test in a depressing state at 93 for four in their second innings. India signed off the day with victory well in sight at Green Park.

The visitors haven’t had a moment’s respite ever since India stormed into the match on Saturday. On Sunday, India, thanks to unbeaten half-centuries from Rohit Sharma (68 n.o.) and Jadeja (50 n.o.), marched from their overnight total of 159/1 to 377/5 and declared their second innings before tea, handing New Zealand an intimidating victory target of 434.

With the pitch getting a tad slower and the odd ball turning viciously, it demanded discipline from the batsmen. Ashwin (3/68) singlehandedly tore into the New Zealand top-order of Martin Guptill, Tom Latham and Kane Williamson. With Williamson’s scalp, Ashwin also became the second fastest to grab 200 wickets in Test cricket, reaching the milestone in 37 Tests.

At the end of the day’s play, New Zealand were staring down the barrel, trailing by 341 runs, with Luke Ronchi (38 batting) and Mitchell Santner (8 batting) holding the innings together. India, though, would be favoured to emerge triumphant on Monday, the final day.

The Black Caps have already experienced the Indian guile, and Ashwin further added to the misery, making the most of the favourable and familiar conditions. He left them in complete disarray in the second innings. The Tamil Nadu spinner plucked openers Guptill and Latham in the same over. Guptill’s half-sweep off Ashwin’s flighted delivery popped to silly point while Latham was hit on the front pad to be adjudged leg before.

Williamson was undone by a quicker one from Ashwin, and Ross Taylor, four overs later, got himself run out, failing to ground his bat and getting beaten by a throw from Umesh Yadav in the deep.

The Kiwis had begun on a positive note in the morning with left-arm spinner Santner along with leg-spinner Ish Sodhi bowling attacking lines. The two extracted bounce and turn to split the overnight pairing of Murali Vijay (76) and Cheteshwar Pujara (78), who  laid the foundation of India’s second innings by compiling 133 runs for the second wicket. Santner, sticking to the off-stump line, packed off Vijay with a straighter one, the ball hitting the pad of the opener who was looking to play for the turn.

Captain Virat Kohli once again arrived amidst raucous cheers from the packed stands. He, however, departed quickly, guilty of a rush of blood while trying to force the pace. He was out sweeping off-spinner Mark Craig. Sodhi then accounted for Pujara, who edged a sharply-turning ball to slips.

Ajinkya Rahane lived dangerously before being packed off by Santner. Rohit then probably saved his place in the playing XI as he, along with Jadeja, rustled up 100 runs quickly for the sixth wicket on a deteriorating surface, to take India to the shores of dominance. The hosts would now be gunning for a swift wrap up on Monday.

score board

INDIA (I innings): 318
NEW ZEALAND (II innings): 262
INDIA (II innings; O/n: 159/1):
Rahul c Taylor b Sodhi    38
(50b, 8x4)
Vijay lbw Santner    76
(170b, 8x4, 1x6)
Pujara c Taylor b Sodhi    78
(152b, 10x4)
Kohli c Sodhi b Craig    18
(40b, 3x4)
Rahane c Taylor b Santner    40
(81b, 4x4)
Rohit (not out)    68
(93b, 8x4)
Jadeja (not out)    50
(58b, 2x4, 3x6)
Extras (B-1, LB-8)    9
Total (5 wkts decl,107.2 overs)    377
Fall of wickets: 1-52 (Rahul), 2-185 (Vijay), 3-214 (Kohli), 4-228 (Pujara), 5-277 (Rahane).
Bowling: Trent Boult 9-0-34-0, Mitchell Santner 32.2-11-79-2, Mark Craig 23-3-80-1, Neil Wagner 16-5-52-0, Ish Sodhi 20-2-99-2, Martin Guptill 4-0-17-0, Kane Williamson 3-0-7-0.
Latham lbw Ashwin    2
Guptill c Vijay b Ashwin    0
Williamson lbw Ashwin    25
(59b, 3x4)
Taylor (run out)    17
(36b, 2x4)
Ronchi (batting)    38
(58b, 4x4, 1x6),
Santner (batting)    8
Extras (LB-2, NB-1)    3
Total (for 4 wkts, in 37 overs)    93
Fall of wickets: 1-2 (Guptill), 2-3 (Latham), 3-43 (Williamson), 4-56 (Taylor).
Bowling: Mohammad Shami 4-2-6-0, R Ashwin 16-1-68-3, Ravindra Jadeja 14-10-8-0 (nb-1), Umesh Yadav 3-0-9-0.

(Published 25 September 2016, 19:09 IST)

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