Rohit Sharma’s magnificent innings of 82 runs on a tricky and crumbling pitch led India to a commanding position in the second Test against New Zealand on Sunday. The right-hander, alongwith Wriddhiman Saha bailed India out of trouble and helped India, who were 46/5 at one stage, reach 227/8 at the end of Day 3 at the Eden Gardens. India extended their lead to 339 runs in the second innings. Virat Kohli also batted beautifully for his 45 before being dismissed off a ball that kept very low. Saha supported Rohit and was unbeated at 39 at the end of the day. Before Tea, New Zealand pace duo of Matt Henry and Trent Boult gave New Zealand hope of a comeback in the match by taking five wickets amongst themselves and leave India troubled position.
New Zealand resumed the day at their overnight score of 128/7 with Jeetan Patel and BJ Watling. Patel was looking good for his maiden half-century but fell for 47 against R Ashwin. Mohammed Shami then wrapped up the New Zealand innings by taking the remaining two wickets, both LBW, and give India a 112-run first innings lead.
BAD LIGHT ENDS DAY 3! India 227/8. What a day of cricket! India struggling in the second innings but then the innings of Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma put them in command. Wriddhiman Saha supported Rohit. India lead by 339 runs now and New Zealand need to fight really hard to at;east save this game. Too much time left
Bhuvneshar Kumar with a big shot straight over the bowler’s head and gets six! India lead by 338 runs now
WICKET! Ravindra Jadeja c sub (Jimmy Neesham) b Mitchell Santner 6. Too many shots from Jadeja. Gets off the mark with a six and tries to go again but the ball hits his bottom end of the bat and he is caught. India lead by 328 with 2 wickets in hand
WICKET! Rohit Sharma c BJ Watling b Mitchell Santner 82. Rohit Sharma falls after a well made 82. Deserved a hundred here but a faint edge off Santner and BJ Watling hangs on
Magnificent atmosphere at Eden Gardens! The crowd is getting behind the Indian batsmen! They are 208/6 and the lead is up to 320 now. Rohit on 81 and Saha on 35
INDIA LEAD OVER 300 NOW! A boundary from Rohit Sharma with a sweep off Jeetan Patel and India now lead by 302 runs. What a great partnership for India. They are in commanding position now
India are 185/6 and the lead is worth 297 runs now! Virat Kohli applauding every run Rohit Sharma and Wriddhiman Saha are scoring. Neil Wagner back into the attack
Rohit Sharma is playing a gem of an innings here! If you can, catch the highlights of his innings and see how effortlessly he is playing his shots on a pitch where others have struggled
FIFTY! What is about Rohit Sharma and Eden Gardens. He scores another fifty at the ground and this innings will be one of the important ones of his career. India in command now
A drizzle in beginning in Kolkata. Rohit Sharma and Wriddhiman Saha are nicely settled at the Eden Gardens. India are 166/6, lead by 278 runs
The partnership between Wriddhiman Saha and Rohit Sharma is now worth 50*. They have defied the New Zealand bowlers on this tricky pitch. India are 157/6 after 45 overs and lead by 267 runs
SIX! Rohit Sharma stretches India’s lead over 250. Effortless from Rohit. A short-ball directed at his body but he pulls it over mid-wicket for a massive six. India’s lead over 250 now
India slowly building their lead now! Rohit Sharma and Wriddhiman Saha have put on 15 runs after Tea. India lead by 237 runs with 4 wickets in hand
Tea in Kolkata! India are 110/6 and lead by 222 runs as Tea in taken on Day 3. A decisive session coming up in the test match
WICKET! R Ashwin lbw b Mitchell Santner. Ashwin looks at the umpire in disbelief. He thinks it is bat first but replays show it is pad first. Good decision once again
They are continuing for extra 20 minutes! Matt Henry returns and almost gets R Ashwin LBW! Very close but going down leg-side
Mitchell Santner into the attack for New Zealand. He will bowl his left-arm spin in what is the last over before Tea on Day 3. India lead by 214 runs
100 up for India with four byes! Low bounce again and it bumps in front of the keeper and runs for four. India are now leading by 212 runs
R Ashwin is the new man in for India. Rohit Sharma is at the other end. India’s lead is just 205 runs. The last time these two were together at Eden Gardens in Tests, they made a record stand
WICKET! Virat Kohli lbw b Trent Boult 45. That was a surprise for Kohli. Pitched at a shortish length but it doesn’t above ankle height! Kohli is struck in front and adjudged LBW. Impact slightly outside off
Runs flow has stopped in Kolkata and from Virat Kohli’s bat. New Zealand bowlers bowling a lot of wide stuff. Trent Boult bowling over the wicket to Kohli which is going across him wide
Twenty overs done and India reach 89/4. Virat Kohli dealing in boundaries and Rohit Sharma giving him able company. The odd-ball is troubling them but they have avoided it so far
SIX! What a pull shot from Rohit Sharma. Short and straight and Rohit is quick to adjust. Over square-leg for a massive six. The scoring has slightly increase with Kohli and Rohit at the crease
Opportunity for Rohit Sharma to play a match changing innings. Even a 60 would qualify for that
— Harsha Bhogle (@bhogleharsha) October 2, 2016
WICKET! Ajinkya Rahane c Trent Boult b Matt Henry. This pitch is troubling the batsmen. Henry pitches it short but doesn’t bounce much. Rahane was already into his pull shot! Top edges it to fine-leg. Pitch playing on batsmen’s mind
New Zealand using the new ball perfectly. They have taken three wickets inside six overs after Lunch. India lead by 146 runs with Ajinkya Rahne and Virat Kohli at the crease
WICKET! Shikhar Dhawan lbw b Trent Boult 7. This is trouble for India as Boult gets Dhawan. It’s comes a bit to the leg-hander and hits his pads before hitting the bat. Hitting the leg-stump and India are three down
CLOSE! Virat Kohli in air to play the shot but it doesn’t bounces that much. Hit plumb in front and New Zealand appeal. Umpire says pitched outside line. Ross Taylor is furious but it pitched outside off
WICKET! Cheteshwar Pujara lbw b Matt Henry 4. Henry does it again for New Zealand but it looked like missing the leg-stump. Umpire took his time but thought it is hitting leg. Not really
Shikhar Dhawan shows sign off form as he pulls one for four and later drives another through leg-side for another. India move to 20/1 after seven overs. India lead by 132 runs
WICKET! Murali Vijay c Martin Guptill b Matt Henry 7. Brilliant from Henry! He draws Vijay forward, similar to first innings. Vijay is forced to play at it and edges it to second slip. Guptill with a low catch
Players back on the field after Lunch break! India will resume at 12/0. Murali Vijay and Shikhar Dhawan are the batsmen for India. Matt Henry to bowl for New Zealand
LUNCH ON DAY 3! A good spell from Trent Boult and Matt Henry but India will go into Lunch without losing a wicket at 12 runs for no wicket. They lead by 124 runs. Shikhar Dhawan and Murali Vijay the unbeaten batsmen for India
Shikhar Dhawan, who was clueless so far in the middle, gets off the mark off his 15th ball he faces with a magnificent cover drive and India are 9/0 after 4 overs in the second innings
HIT-AGAIN! Horrible for Shikhar Dhawan! Another Boult delivery takes off and hits him on the same thumb as it hit on previously. Physio out again
Good bowling from New Zealand bowlers as Matt Henry gets a couple to swing away from the batsmen! He induced an edge but it races to boundary through the slip region
Shikhar Dhawan hit on the thumb and in pain! A Trent Boult delivery takes off from the pitch and hits Dhawan on the back thumb. That will be soar
India openers Shikhar Dhawan and Murali Vijay out in the middle to begin India’s second innings. Trent Boult will open the bowling for New Zealand. India lead by 112 runs in first innings
India take a 112-run lead in the first innings. Big lead considering the conditions and pitch in Kolkata. The batsmen now need to bat out New Zealand out of the game
ALL OUT! New Zealand bowled out for 204. Shami with his third wicket. Over the wicket to left-hander and hits him on the pads. Watling can consider himself unlucky as the ball pitched slightly outside the line of leg-stump. But very close
WICKET! BJ Watling lbw b Mohammed Shami 25. A good wicket for Shami. Pace and reverse from Shami as Watling fails to move back quickly. Hits him on the pads and would have hit the leg-stump
A slow phase in the match as India bowl a few maiden overs. Ashwin and Shami are keeping the batsmen guessing. Very close to picking up those remaining two wickets
WICKET! Jeetan Patel c Mohammed Shami b R Ashwin 47. Looking to get his first Test fifty, Patel goes for the big shot but it drifts away from him and takes the bottom edge. High up in the air and Shami takes the catch. India finally pick a wicket
NO-BALL! Jadeja has over-stepped and Patel will get a reprieve! He will continue to bat on 47. Jadeja’s first landing of the front-foot first is just over the line. New Zealand still 7 down
WICKET! Jeetan Patel lbw b Ravindra Jadeja 47. Patel on back-foot and it hits him on the pads. Umpire thinks it is good to hit the stumps. Patel is gone for 47
The play will resume as the sun is out! There are dark clouds but no rain for the moment. Jadeja will resume bowling to Jeetan Patel. Only five minutes of delay but Virat Kohli is not happy
It’s a drizzle that has stopped the game in Kolkata. The whole ground will be covered as the dark clouds approach. There is no rain and the sun is out but precautionary
All of a sudden in Kolkata, there is rain! The covers are one and players are moving towards the dressing room
Two boundaries in that over of Ravindra Jadeja. Patel first drives him through covers and then paddle sweeps him for another four. 150 up for New Zealand
India with the first change in the bowling. Ravindra Jadeja replaces Mohammed Shami. He has taken one wicket in this innings but no assistance from the pitch so far for the spinners
CLOSE! A push from the batsman towards covers and Jadeja sprints to gather the ball and then throw the ball while getting up. Batsmen dives to reach the crease. The bat is just in when the bails are off. A powerful throw would have got him. Brilliant effort from Jadeja
Mohammed Shami will be bowling from the other end. Bhuvnehswar begins with a good over. Jeetan Patel will be on strike
Jeetan Patel will be on strike as Bhuvneshwar Kumar begins to bowl the first over of the day! And he starts it with a boundary straight down the ground. High in the air but safe
Virender Sehwag rings the bell today! We are all set for the start of play on Day 3 of the Kolkata Test. The sun is out and so are the players on the field. Big day ahead
The cracks are widening at the Eden Gardens pitch and the batsmen will find it difficult to play! The odd ball will keep low as we saw on Day 2 but there will be the steep bounce which will keep the batsmen guessing
In rain, Bhuvi leaves Kiwis high and dry
Ross Taylor didn’t hide his frustration. After a two-hour stoppage, play had resumed in fading light but the floodlights were turned on and umpires Rod Tucker and Richard Kattleborough deemed it good enough for the game to resume.
New Zealand’s stand-in captain, however, wasn’t happy. He was complaining about the visibility, or rather the lack of it. An unpredictable pitch and difficult batting conditions seemed to have gotten under his skin. Virat Kohli sensed Taylor’s uncertainty. He took off Ravindra Jadeja and brought in Bhuvneshwar Kumar from the Club House end. The medium pacer struck immediately with a gem of an outswinger that Taylor nicked to Murali Vijay at the first slip. Two overs later he brought one in to trap Mitchell Santner plumb in front. Matt Henry was castled next ball with another inswinger that kept a little low. Kumar was on a hat-trick but the away-goer narrowly missed the outside edge offered by Jeetan Patel. Kumar had already bagged a five-for; his first in a home Test.
Kumar bowled three overs in that spell before the second day’s play at Eden Gardens was called off due to bad light. He took 3/13 in that spell to sap the life out of New Zealand batting. The visitors finished the day at 128/7. Kumar’s figures read: 10-0-33-5.
Earlier, he had trapped Henry Nicholls leg before in his first over before breaching Martin Guptill’s defence, inducing him to shoulder arm a length delivery. Kumar’s inclusion proved to be a masterstroke. Winning combinations are usually retained with, but this Eden pitch demanded swing more than raw pace. So Umesh Yadav had to make way for the Uttar Pradesh seamer who reaped rich rewards, maintaining an impeccable line and length. Kumar wanted to take a five-for in India. But pitches here rarely offer assistance to fast bowlers. Eden provided him with an opportunity and grabbed it with both hands.
It was his fourth five-wicket haul in the longest format. The previous one came at Gros Islet during the recently concluded Test series against West Indies. Kumar at times had bowled to an 8-1 field in that game. Here, he stuck to a more conventional 7-2 set-up. But hardly did he pitch anything around leg. His bowling was a classic example of doing the basics right.
Kumar’s ride at the highest level has been topsy-turvy. He has played 14 Tests after making his debut in February 2013. The 2014 series in England was the high point, where he took 19 wickets at 26.63 in five matches. The following series Down Under saw his decline. A left ankle injury was a deterrent. In Sydney, the only Test he played in that series, Kumar had been clobbered all over the park, returning with an average of 168.00. Kumar had to wait for 18 months to get back to the Indian team fold.
For some reason Kumar tried to be sharper off the deck during the Australia tour, losing his natural swing in the process. Once he realised his mistake, redemption began.
Kumar needed wickets under his belt to regain his confidence. The IPL 2016 success was instrumental. The 26-year-old had started off slowly, but ended up with 23 wickets in 17 matches as Sunrisers Hyderabad clinch their maiden title. Credit has to be given to the Sandeep Patil-led erstwhile selection committee for keeping him in the loop. The Test match at Gros Islet saw the transformation; that Kumar was trying to make the batters play almost every ball. Today it was the same. Here, among all the bowlers from either side, he turned out to be the most effective because he left opponents with little room for error.
In the context of the game, Kumar’s performance was even more crucial, for R Ashwin had a rare off day. The off-spinner bowled five overs and conceded 23 runs without taking a wicket. He didn’t get the turn. India had been defending a mid-level first innings total and someone had to ensure that the opposition didn’t build steady partnerships. Kumar led from the front.
Luke Ronchi said the Indian seamer had been assisted by the pitch. At the same time, he praised Kumar’s ability to make the batsmen play at everything. “I think it’s a combination of everything. This wicket, especially the new ball, is a big thing. It does a few more things. The bounce is a little unpredictable with a harder ball and obviously it swings around and things like that. And later on he (Kumar) came back to bowl in nice lines to hit the stumps, to get lbw and nicking of Ross in just the area where you make the batsman play pretty much. I think that’s the main thing. Make the batsman play and make decisions that he wanted and that we didn’t want. So he bowled really well,” the New Zealand middle-order batsman said.
Standing behind the stumps, Wriddhiman Saha assessed Kumar’s performance from a different perspective. “The bench strength in our team is very good. We can select a team according to the conditions and situation. In the last match Umesh played, and in this one we felt the wicket might seam a bit. So Bhuvi played, and he did really well. He has got five wickets so no doubt he has bowled outstandingly,” he said.