Ind vs NZ - 2nd Test, Day 3, Mumbai - Ashwin 3-fer has NZ on the mat at 140-5, still 399 behind
India set 540-run target for New Zealand after Ajaz Patel's 14 wicket-haul
Brief Score: India: 325 (Agarwal 150, Axar 52, Ajaz Patel 10-119) & 276-7d (Agarwal 62, Ajaz Patel 4-106) lead New Zealand: 62 (Jamieson 17, Ashwin 4-8, Siraj 3-19) & 140-5 (Daryl Mitchell 60, Nicholls 36*, Ashwin 3-27) by 400-runs at Stumps on Day-3.
India started Day-3 with the 332-runs lead. Already in the Driver's seat, India still chose to bat around 50-60 overs and have a crack against the tired New Zealand batters in the 2nd Test at Mumbai. On the other hand, the opposition, New Zealand tried their luck by taking some early wickets to get back in the game and hold the fort.
The Surface on Day 3
The cracks had opened up widely and exactly in those places where a spinner would love to land the ball. It was going to be a challenge for batters but if they apply themselves by coming down the track, they might score some runs.
Mayank Agarwal half-century takes India over 400-run lead at Lunch
Both the overnight batters were playing quite aggressively as India increased their lead to 370-runs. Mayank Agarwal after a brilliant fifty got out to Will Young at long-off. Soon Cheteshwar Pujara missed out another half-century as Ross Taylor grabbed a fabulous catch in the slip. In came Virat Kohli as the crowd welcomed him with a big cheer.
New Zealand pacers were getting some help off the track so, changed their tactics and went for the short ball plot; it somehow explored some weakness of regular opener Shubman Gill before India’s upcoming Test series in South Africa. Soon, the home side went past the 400-lead mark as Umpires called for Lunch.
India set a Target of 540 before NZ lost Captain Latham before Tea
India positively started the second session with runs coming from both ends almost at a rate of 4 and so. Both Shubman Gill and Virat Kohli were hitting runs for fun and against the run of play Gill missed out his half-century as Rachin Ravindra picked up his maiden Test wicket.
Shreyas Iyer smashed a couple of sixes but perished by some cunning stumping by Tom Blundell. And soon the Indian captain, Virat dragged a wide delivery to the stumps. In 15-mins, the home side had been pushed back to 217-5 with a lead of 480.
Axar Patel took himself in the T20 mode as he was smacking the Kiwi spinners out of the ground; Ajaz Patel picked his 14th wicket of the game as Virat Kohli declared the Indian innings setting a target of 540-runs for NZ to win the Test series. The left-arm born Mumbai spinner finished with the best match bowling figure (14-225) against India.
NZ going into an early Tea due to some technical issue of the spider camera, lost captain Tom Latham as Ravichandran Ashwin provided India with their first breakthrough. The Blackcaps were on the back foot straightaway. Read More: Ind vs NZ - 2nd Test, Day 2, Mumbai - Ajaz takes perfect ten but NZ blown at 62; India 332 ahead
India eyeing early finish to the Test; need 5-wickets to win series
The visitors started well as the batters were using their feet to come near to the ball and was playing with great application. That was what required exactly on this track. But finally, Ashwin broke the little growing partnership as Will Young became the off spinner’s 50th Test wicket in 2021.
Ross Taylor didn't look comfortable at all; the first ball he faced, he used his willow and swung it like a T20 game; he did the same again and at last, became Ravichandran Ashwin’s 51st wicket; his 3rd in this innings. The Blackcaps were going down and out.
A bit of rebuilding was needed at the point and the new pair of Henry Nicholls and Daryl Mitchell began to stitch a partnership. India did get a chance to get the former twice but failed both times. First, in the Umesh Yadav delivery, when the bowler thought that the batter had a little nick before being stuck on the pad, although replays showed that there was nothing and the NZ left-hander could be plumb; secondly Wriddhiman Saha missed a stumping chance on a no-ball.
Soon, the pair brought up the 50-partnership as Daryl Mitchell reached his individual fifty; India requiring a wicket or two.
Ashwin came back and found so many “plays and misses” shots. The Kiwi all-rounder, Mitchell, was batting beautifully hitting some shots straight over the ground but he played one shot too many as he gifted India their 4th wicket which provided some extra energy in the last 40-minutes. And again, a suicidal running sent new man Tom Blundell to the dressing room for a duck. Heavy last 20-mins for the visitors.
The Mumbai crowd was cheering loudly as India tried putting more pressure with close infielders on the opposition. In the end, NZ finished Day-3 with 140-runs for the loss of half the side; they would hope for a miracle from hereon.
What Lies Ahead on Day 4
Tomorrow could be the last day for New Zealand for their Test series in India. With just 5-wickets in hand and exactly 400-runs needed on a spinning track against quality Indian bowlers; it's easy to guess the result. The question will be how much time India will take? Can they wrap up the Kiwis, the World Test Champions before Lunch? Time will tell us.
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