India are in the driver’s seat in the third Test against New Zealand as they took a 258-run lead in the first innings after bowling out the visitors for 299. New Zealand began the day at 28/0 and didn’t lose a wicket till 118 before Tom Latham fell to R Ashwin. New Zealand went into Lunch at 125/1. But Ashwin weaved his magic in the second session and picked up three wickets and also affected a run-out. Jimmy Neesham (71) cobbled together fifty partnerships with BJ Watling (23) and Mitchell Santner (22) to push New Zealand near the 300-mark. India, who hold an unassailable 2-0 lead in the series, decided against enforcing the follow-on and finished the day at 18/0, extending the lead to 276 runs.
STUMPS ON DAY 3!
India will take this day as they extend their lead to 276 runs in the second innings. India are 18/0 after bowling out New Zealand for 299.
Cheteshwar Pujara and Murali Vijay are the not out batsmen
Gambhir is walking off the field! He looks is pain and is holding his shoulder. Don’t think he can bat again. Retired hurt!
Cheteshwar Pujara comes on to bat
Gambhir hurts shoulder again! Goes for a second run on his call but has to dive to make it to the crease. Falls on the same shoulder and is in pain. Has called for the physio
Indian openers are out in the middle. Gautam Gambhir has come out to bat with Murali Vijay. His had hurt his shoulder while fielding
India will bat again! Pujara running off the field quickly. He may open in place of Gautam Gambhir as he has shoulder injury
ALL OVER! New Zealand are bowled out for 299 as Ashwin picks up his sixth wicket. Boult tries to sweep but manages a top edge. Pujara takes the catch. What a performance by Ashwin
90 overs gone and New Zealand are 299/9. Matt Henry and Trent Boult are at the crease. New Zealand still need 59 runs to save the follow-on
WICKET! Jeetan Patel run-out Ashwin! Would you believe it! For the second time in this innings, Ashwin has run-out a batsman at the non-striker’s end. Gets his hand on a Henry straight shot. Patel was out of his crease but tries to land his bat. Ashwin is not sure but Kohli appeals. Patel’s bat is inches off the ground. He is gone. What a day Ashwin is having
WICKET! Jimmy Neesham lbw R Ashwin. This is close. Neesham tries to sweep and is struck on the back-leg. Umpire thinks a lot but gives it out. Replays show it might have turned a bit too much to miss the off-stump
Neesham holding on to one end for New Zealand. He has scored a fifty and looking good for more. New Zealand still facing the follow-on
GONE! M Santner (22) c Kohli b Jadeja
Santner was going for the cover drive, catches an inside edge and Virat Kohli with a fantastic catch at the leg slip. New Zealand 254-7 after 79.3 overs
Five overs gone after Tea and New Zealand are 231/6 with Mitchell Santner and Jimmy Neesham. Spin from both ends from India. Neehsam on 44*
We have a bowling change in the second over after Tea. Murali Vijay will bowl his off-spin. He has one wicket in Tests
Players return after the Tea break. Jimmy Neesham and Mitchell Santner to resume the innings for New Zealand. Ravindra Jadeja to bowl for India
Tea on Day 3! What a session for India. They picked up five wickets to reduce New Zealand to 216/6 at Tea. Ashwin the destroyer with three wickets in this session and four overall. One run-out caused by him and another wicket for Jadeja
WICKET! BJ Watling c Ajinkya Rahane b Ravindra Jadeja. Spoke too soon I guess. Flight and turn from Jadeja and Watling gets an edge. Rahane at slips is alert to grab the catch after a fumble. Jadeja gets his first wicket
200 and FIFTY stand up! Jimmy Neesham and BJ Watling have brought New Zealand out of the hole for the moment. Rebuilding the innings with their partnership. 200 up for New Zealand
60 overs gone and New Zealand are 189/5. Neesham and Watling at the crease. New Zealand still trail India by 368 runs. Umesh and Shami bowling in tandem. Time for some spin before Tea?
Jimmy Neeshan and BJ Watling at the crease for New Zealand. From 118/0, they have slipped to 148/5. Still trailing India by 409 runs. India bowlers asking some serious questions
WICKET! Luke Ronchi c Ajinkya Rahane b R Ashwin
And again Ashwin He has Ronchi caught at slips. Holding the line. Ronchi gets a thin edge. Saha fails to catch it but it gets deflected to Rahane, who takes a diving catch at slips
WICKET! Martin Guptill run out R Ashwin 72
You cannot stop Ashwin today! Guptill is unlucky as he is run-out at the non striker’s end. Luke Ronchi hits one straight back and Ashwin gets fingertips on that. Guptill was backing up too far and fails to come back in time. Gone after making a good 72
Ross Taylor is having a disastrous series in India. He has scored just 57 runs with an average of just over 11. Also, he has four ducks in last four Test matches
Ross Taylor c Ajinkya Rahane b R Ashwin 0 Third for Ashwin! He is enjoying it. Taylor for for the defence but it holds it’s outside off stump line. Takes the edge and Rahane takes a good low catch at slips
WICKET! Kane Williamson b R Ashwin 8. Ashwin does it again! He pitches it a bit fuller and Williamson was going for the cut but realises it’s not there. Tries to play the dab in the third-man direction but the ball spins into him and takes the inside-edge and on to the stumps
Players are back after the break and Umesh Yadav will bowl the first over to Kane Williamson. New Zealand resume at 125/1, still trailing India by 420 runs
LUNCH ON DAY 3. Best batting session for New Zealand in the series as they make 97 runs for the loss of one wicket. Guptill not out for 59*. New Zealand 125/1, trail India by 420 runs
Kane Williamson is the new man in for New Zealand! The captain needs to bring out his best game! Guptill looking good at the other end. 15 minutes for Lunch
WICKET! Tom Latham c&b R Ashwin! Brilliant bowling from the off-spinner. Slower through the air and it grips the pitch. Latham is already into the shot and closes the face of the bat. Leading edge and a dolly for Ashwin. Caught and bowled
CLOSE! Tom Latham survives a close call! Indian fielders were sure they have got their man but umpire says not out. Latham sweeps and gets a bottom edge. The ball bounces off his boot and Rahane takes the catch at slips. Umpire doesn’t check it
India spinners struggling against the New Zealand batsmen’s solid defence. No risks only proper cricketing shots. The length has been on the shorter side from the bowlers
FIFTY! Now Latham brings up his half-century and with a four! Out comes the sweep with a long reach. His third fifty of the series
FIFTY! First half-century for Guptill is last seven Test innings! A formidable fifty from the New Zealand opener and what time to get it. Struggling in his career and his team trying to look good on spinning tracks
Guptill defying Indian spinners in Indore! Pulls Jadeja for a four, then launches his for a six over long-off. He has reached 42* in what could well be a career reviving innings
Spin from both for India as Ashwin and Jadeja look to break the opening partnership of New Zealand. Not much assistance from the pitch but the bowlers are creating chances
CLOSE! Perfect field placement from India to trap Latham but almost. An awkward delivery from Shami on Latham’s waist and tries to flick it. It lands just short of the fielder at short mid-wicket
50 up for New Zealand in the 19th over! A single for Guptill, who has showed good concentration today. Shami bowling the 19th over for India
Cautious start from the New Zealand openers as they are leaving most of the things outside off stump. Indian pacers trying to go through the defence of the batsmen but no success so far
DROPPED! Ajinkya Rahane puts down Martin Guptill at gully. Guptill trying to hide his pads by bringing the bat in front but it moves just away from his bat and takes the outside edge. Flies to Rahane who is in no position to take that catch
Two overs bowled this morning and New Zealand manage five runs in those. They are 33/0. Both overs bowled by pacers for India. Umesh Yadav first and the second was bowled by Mohammed Shami
Umpire says play in Indore. We are all set. Umesh Yadav will bowl to Martin Guptill. Attacking field from Virat Kohli
Welcome to the coverage of the third day of the third Test between India and New Zealand from Indore. India posted 557/5 dec in their first innings and New Zealand were 28/0 at stumps on Day 2
“KOHLI KILLED us softly is the nicest way of describing it.” It wasn’t an admission you would generally expect from an opposition coach on a hot, unforgiving day where his team has pretty much been beaten to the ground.
For, there can be nothing ‘soft’ about chasing the ball around for nearly two full days in the subcontinent with the home team piling on over 500 runs. But with that candid remark, New Zealand coach Mike Hesson had pretty much summed up the manner in which Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane had batted his team into submission. Or at least, how it felt being at the receiving end of the run glut at the Holkar Stadium on Sunday.
First, let’s look at the staggering numbers that the two Indian batsmen achieved recorded over the first two days of Indore’s maiden Test. Their partnership of 365 was the highest Indian stand for the fourth wicket and the fifth-highest for any wicket in the country’s Test history.
Kohli went on to score his second double-ton in three months while Rahane agonizingly fell 12 runs short of his maiden 200. It was only the second time that No.4 and No.5 had both scored a 150+ score — to put that into perspective just think of the plethora of batting moguls that have batted in those positions for India over the years. And by the end of Day Two, India had more or less tightened the noose on the hapless Kiwis after finally declaring their first innings at 557/5 with Rohit Sharma also completing a half-century.
But what stood out was the way in which Kohli and Rahane went about tying the knot methodically, ruthlessly and painfully — if you were the opposition that is — despite holding the visitors by the scruff of the neck throughout the day. The control and lack of fuss with which they went about accumulating the mammoth partnership has now put India well on their way to claiming a whitewash.
For the record, their stand lasted 112 overs, or 672 balls, and over 460 minutes. It’s not they you don’t expect batsmen of the modern era to forge partnerships of such epic proportions. But especially when it’s the first innings of a home Test with the opposition on the mat, it’s safe to assume that these runs will be amassed at a tempo more in tune with the times cricket thrives in.
Rahane and Kohli in fact spent more time at the crease together than what VVS Laxman and Rahul Dravid had in Kolkata during their historic 376-run stand in 2001 against the Aussies. This despite India’s contemporary batting stalwarts having fallen 11 runs short of matching that record. In fact, of the top-8 highest partnerships of all time for India, only Vinoo Mankad and Pankaj Roy leased the pitch for longer — 472 minutes is the time it took Harry Cave’s New Zealand to separate them — than Rahane and Kohli during their erstwhile world record opening stand of 413 in 1956.
Laxman and Dravid faced 625 balls together and occupied the crease for 446 minutes. It’s likely that the first images that come to mind from that epochal Test are Laxman opening up his stance and whipping Shane Warne across the turn to the mid-wicket fence in a manner that would have made an English public school teacher proud.
If that was a show of complete domination, what these two put on here was more an exhibition of supreme control over the proceedings and the opponents.
Ideally, having seen him show extreme restraint on the opening day in order to seize the initiative, you would expect Kohli to have unleashed himself and put forth a boundary fest.
But the stats prove otherwise. He only struck 20 fours — one of them a paddle reverse-sweep — overall in his 211 and his percentage of runs scored in boundaries was just 37.91. That was the lowest percentage among all double-centuries that Indian batsmen have scored since 1990. Instead, the highlight of his innings was the 117 singles and the 7 twos that he ran during his lengthy stay at the crease, out of which 105 came while he combined with Rahane.
Yes, the Kiwis didn’t let up to their credit. There weren’t too many loose deliveries on offer. And they never sat back and let the Indians have it easy. There were several plans employed — the short ball barrage to Rahane, the wide temptress deliveries to Kohli and the spinners bowling with in-and-out fields. But what Kohli and Rahane did was take stock of all the plans and dismissed them one at a time.
Only on three occasions before he reached his 200 did Kohli go for more than three balls without scoring a run on Day Two. There was always a push to the sweeper or a gentle flick to deep backward square for a single.
Or he would stretch his front-foot out and pat a length delivery from the spinners to the far reaches of the straight field and amble across. It was a testament to his peak fitness that it wasn’t until a ball before he was dismissed — and that too because it came right after the tea-break — that Kohli showed any signs of distress as he fought off cramps in his hamstring after playing a sweep off Jeetan Patel.
At the other end, Rahane was showing off his own physical aptitude. Unlike Kohli, he was slightly more brutal in his ways. He would reveal later that they two had planned to attack the spinners so that the fast bowlers are brought up under the hot sun to open up more opportunities of scoring. And there were no signs of fatigue as he kept charging down the crease and succeeded in smashing four sixes off them.
Rahane is the perfect rebuttal to the theory that batsmen in the modern era are susceptible to most of the time-tested challenges that the longest format provides. That while they might have expanded the scoring range beyond previously-imagined horizons; they weren’t on par with their predecessors when it came to having a mastery over their temperament.
Rahane’s already proven on enough occasions that he’s India’s most complete batsmen when it comes to succeeding in all formats and across all conditions. Here, he wasn’t always in control but showed an impressive mix of restraint and bravado in dealing with Matt Henry’s bouncer barrage in particular. They scored at 3.09 per over while they looked to strengthen their position on the first day. They upped the ante, though not radically, and scored at a run-rate of 3.41 on Sunday. Remarkably, though, the Kiwis could bowl only two maidens while the two were at the crease before Kohli was dismissed. And the first of those came only in the 32nd over of the day. It was just an indicator of how systematically they wore down New Zealand.
But to say that the visitors have been left for dead would be rather presumptuous. With three days to go, the road ahead is straightforward for the Kiwis. If they somehow manage to extend their first innings to as late as possible on the fourth day, and thereby save the follow-on a draw still seems within their grasp.
Like Hesson said, the blueprint is out there thanks to Kohli and Rahane. It only remains to be seen whether Williamson & Co can actually take a leaf out of it to make sure that they don’t end up going down ‘softly’.