Axar Patel, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja lead India'a fight on Day 3
Brief Scores: India 345 (Iyer 105, Southee 5-69) & 14-1 (Jamieson- 1-8) lead New Zealand 296 (Latham 95, Young 89, Axar Patel 5-62) by 63-runs at Stumps on Day Three
After a hard day in all the departments of the game on the second day of Kanpur Test, India entered the third day with so much hope of picking early wickets and putting New Zealand under pressure who had not put a single wrong foot; the only good thing the home side did last evening was not let the visitors score easy runs which meant couple of wickets would have brought them back into the contest.
The 22-yards on offer is decent enough for the batters if they applied themselves properly. Not much rough for Ravichandran Ashwin on the off-stump mark but there is enough for left-armers, Axar Patel and Ravindra Jadeja, to work with. The only eye-raising part is that two pacers are not getting enough reverse off the surface. And all the spin that Indian fans are used to is absent at Green Park in great measure this time also because of the unavailability of enough sunshine at the start of winter in North India.
KS Bharat substituted for Wriddhiman Saha as India got two wickets in the first session
Wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha felt some discomfort in his neck, so Andhra boy KS Bharat substituted for him. Well, even though the man behind the stump changed, the wickets column still remain unchanged in the first half an hour.
Ashwin and Ishant Sharma both started the day well with the latter trying to dry up the runs. The off-spinner got some purchase making it tough for both Tom Latham and even Bharat behind the wickets. Unfortunately, the edges did not carry to the fielders as luck was still with the Blackcaps.
At last, the Chennai boy provided India their first wicket in the form of Will Young who went to the hut after a wonderful 89; somehow with the brilliant catch, KS Bharat won Ashwin's faith. India went into a huddle straightaway. Well, that was the only success the home side achieved in the first hour as NZ skipper Kane Williamson looked a bit under pressure.
After the drinks break, quite a few boundaries came but the main attraction was the discussion going on between Ashwin and Umpire Nitin Menon. Because of Ashwin's new style of delivering the ball coming before the wicket but not stepping into the danger area, the umpire constantly complained of blocking his line of vision.
What Ashwin was doing is within the laws and there is no way the umpire should have an objection to it. Afterall, the bowler will suffer without a decision from the umpire, however ironic that may sound.
It came to the point that Umpire Menon first spoke with India Captain Ajinkya Rahane and even India Head Coach Rahul Dravid had a chat with match referee, Javagal Srinath. However, Ashwin somehow was blocking the non-striker which is out of the rules of the game.
Just at the stroke of lunch, after using the old ball a little after 80 overs, India selected the new ball and Umesh Yadav straightaway got Williamson leg before wicket. The New Zealand captain reviewed the decision but to no avail. The lunch tasted a bit better for the home side as New Zealand found themselves at 197-2. Read More: Ind vs NZ - 1st Test, Day 2, Kanpur - NZ at 129-0 after Southee fifer restricts India to 345
India take four more wickets in second session
The first hour in the second session was exactly what India would dream of. Axar Patel seemed to be enjoying the longest format of the game lot more than others. First, he dismissed Ross Taylor with a lovely catch from wicketkeeper KS Bharat.
No sooner had New Zealand got healed of the wound, the left-arm spinner again provided them another shocker. Henry Nicholls' missed a sweep against a straight delivery and was found leg before wicket. The umpire raised his finger; although Nicholls asked for DRS; one of those rare occasions showed that it would go in India's favour.
And just after the drinks break in the second session, Patel delivered again sending the big fish back to the pavilion. Till then, Tom Latham was using his feet well to take quick singles. Axar watching that just dragged his length back and the ball luckily pitched on the rough turning big; Latham getting an inside edge became the second Kiwi batter get stumped in the 90s.
India were back in the game. Ravindra Jadeja then got the debut man, Rachin Ravindra, with an absolute dream ball; the ball pitched in the rough and disturbed the stumps. People realized why it's so tough for a touring side to win a Test in India.
Only Ishant Sharma looked a bit off and bowled four no balls in his 12 overs at one point. Nonetheless, the home side made a fair comeback in the game going into tea with the opposition being on 249-6.
NZ get wrapped up for 296; India lose one wicket
India kept it tight even after the break and eventually reaped just rewards again in the form of Tom Blundell. The ball before that was a misfield which ensured a two to get the batter back to strike. And the next ball was an absolute beauty; it almost rolled with the ground and hit the timber to close Tom’s innings.
Tim Southee, along with Kyle Jamieson, did play some shots but the former while playing for the spin got undone by a straighter one from Axar. Test Cricket seemed to be quite an easy format for Axar who achieved his fifth 5-wicket haul in just his fourth Test.
Ashwin surpasses Wasim Akram’s wickets tally
Within the next 26 runs, Ashwin got both the last batters to wrap up the Blackcaps innings and, in this way, he surpassed Wasim Akram in total number of Test wickets (414), sitting just behind Harbhajan Singh (417).
With a lead of 49 runs, India would have loved to have around 280-300 runs before having the last crack against New Zealand on the last day. It was tough for the Indian openers to come out and bat the rest of the overs left in the day after being in the field for almost 143 overs.
Well, the start wasn’t good at all. Jamieson with his first ball of the over squared off Shubhman Gill totally. That ball somehow punched in the eyes of all the batters.
The same bowler bowled a peach of a delivery in his second over which as a batter you never want to see. In the process, Kyle Jamieson becomes the fastest NZ bowler to take 50-Test wickets (9 Tests) going over Shane Bond (12 games). For some, the format is back.
And it’s 4:30pm; you should know what happens by now. The light gets dim and the stumps are called. Well, it’s the same even today as both Cheteshwar Pujara and Mayank Agarwal left the field with India at 14-1 and a lead of 63 runs.
What to expect on Day Four
They will, of course, want to throw at least a target of 250 runs to New Zealand and bat deep to get the Kiwi batters chasing the score mostly on the fifth day.
But with the pitch already beginning to witness its new colour, will India be able to reach where they eye in or Williamson-led Blackcaps will spoil the home fans’ holiday. Time will surely grant us with something special.