On a surface that was considerably better to bat on than the first, Indian bowlers quickly adjusted to the lengths it demanded, in the process bowling New Zealand A out for 235. Mohammed Shami snared three while fellow pacers Umesh Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah and Navdeep Saini gobbled up two apiece with offie Ravichandran Ashwin pouching the final. But there more their bowling than the numbers suggest. A gist of how they stacked up.
Ravichandran Ashwin (1/46): The last overseas Test he played was back in December 2018 in Adelaide, where he played an unsung role in India’s victory. While an abdominal strain ruled him out of the remainder of the series, but in his absence, Ravindra Jadeja’s nailed his spot with his all-round feats. So even after he reclaimed fitness, he sat out of the West Indies tour. Here was a chance to stake his claims, and he put in a fairly decent shift by bottling an end up, sticking to his lines and barely dropping short. It’s the role expected of spinners in New Zealand, where the surface doesn’t crack up or slow down as the game progress. So, unlike in the subcontinent, he bowled quicker and flatter through the air. Though there was sufficient cross-wind, he didn’t purchase much of drift and kept banging the off-stump or fifth-stump line. The turn he extracted off the surface wasn’t alarming either. In the subcontinent, he would have operated on the sixth stump, when he would look to attack the batsmen. He got sufficient overspin and bounce, a finger spinner’s trusted weapons, and towards the end of play he began to experiment more frequently with his variations. His most eye-catchy effort came on the field, where he made a spectacular stop at the cover.
Ravindra Jadeja (0/25): The left-arm spinner came as the sixth Indian bowler, and did almost an Ashwin-like job, in holding an end up. He troubled batsmen with his smart change of pace and angles, sometimes making them wait for the ball and sometimes hurrying them to the shots. But he too mostly n the line of the stumps, mostly off and middle and hardly got any fizz off the surface, as was expected on a day-two surface. Maybe, he pipped Ashwin in the accuracy quotient.
Jasprit Bumrah (2/18): Though not yet at the zenith of his prowess, he bowled sharply and lively enough to allay untoward fears that he has lost his deception. He bowled with fabulous rhythm, pace, and liveness. A beautifully-shaped delivery got him the first wicket, Will Young. The ball angled in and moved a shade away to brush his outside edge. Classic Bumrah stuff. Similar rippers though didn’t yield similar results. The next victim was Finn Allen, who discounted Bumrah’s ability to duck the ball inwards, and shouldered arms to be bowled. Maybe, he thought the bounce would carry the ball over the stumps.
Mohammed Shami (3/17): Coming at a time when the surface was hardly offering any swing, he exhibited a masterclass on seam bowling. Those beautiful wrists and seam position was on show, as he tormented their middle-order. Everything he did was precise, be it the length or movement. Straightaway, he was getting more lift that his colleagues and tormented the batsmen. He was at his best in the second spell, just after the drinks break in the second session.
Umesh Yadav (2/49): Initially, he struggled for the lengths, he was either too full or too straight. Then he laboured with the lines, he was either way outside the off-stump or straying down the leg-side. Intermittently, though, he would bowl a near-unplayable deliver, one that would bend away, or hold the line marginally after pitching. But he bowled one loose ball too many and thus turned out to be India’s second most expensive bowler, though he was clearly not bowling at full pelt.
Navdeep Saini (2/58): Like Umesh, he too bowled a wayward first spell, spraying the ball all over the place. But his second and third spells were more encouraging, as he shunned his pursuit of lateral movement and instead stuck to what he generally does well, which is to bowl back-of-length. Recognition arrived in the form of two wickets.
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