Indian spinners Axar Patel and Ravichandran Ashwin on Saturday ran through New Zealand’s batting order to bring India back in the ongoing first Test in Kanpur. The duo shared eight wickets among each-other to bowl out the hosts for 296, handing a 49-run first-innings lead. At the stumps on day three, Ajinkya Rahane-led Team India posted 14 for 1, taking their lead to 63 in the second innings. Opener Mayank Agarwal returned unbeaten on 4 while Cheteshwar Pujara was not out on 9.
Axar was the pick of the bowlers as he got his fifth five-wicket haul to hurt the Black Caps. He reached the feat in the 128th over by dismissing Tim Southee with a delivery angling in. With the five-fer, in what is his fourth Test appearance, he became the Indian bowler with most five-wicket hauls in first four Tests.
The overnight batters – Tom Latham and Will Young – resumed the innings at 129 for 0 and went on to add 22 runs to the total before Ashwin struck and provided the much-needed breakthrough after toiling hard for an entire one-and-a-half session on Friday. Young (89) nicked a turning delivery that didn’t bounce much and KS Bharat, who came in as a substitute for Saha, took a sharp catch.
Young’s dismissal made way for captain Kane Williamson who kept the scoreboard ticking along with Tom Latham. They added another 46 runs for the second wicket before Umesh Yadav trapped the Kiwi captain for 18 at the stroke of lunch.
Once Ashwin broke the deadlock in the morning session, the other bowlers turned active post lunch and New Zealand batters began to stutter. Soon Axar burst into the scene and took down Ross Taylor (11) to get his first wicket.
In his next over, he trapped Henry Nichols (2) in front and scalped the prized wicket of Tom Latham (95) who was rooting for his 12th Test ton. The batsman went down the line to smoke Axar out of the park but ended up edging the ball that bounced and went straight to the keeper. Bharat was quick enough to grab it and dislodge the wickets before Latham could make his ground.
Ravindra Jadeja was next in the fray to pick his first wicket as he removed all-rounder Rachin Ravindra (13) before the tea break.
In the third session, wicketkeeper Tom Blundell teamed up with Kyle Jamieson and tried to show some resistance but Axar had different plans. In the 123rd over, the left-armer returned to jolt the visitors to clean up Blundell (13) and then castled Tim Southee (5) to complete his fifer.
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Ashwin came into the picture again and picked the last two New Zealand wickets – Jamieson (23) and William Somerville (6) – to bundle out the visitors for 296.
In the second innings, India lost an early wicket was Jamieson struck early and found a gaping hole between his bat and pad. With this dismissal, he became the fastest New Zealand bowler to 50 Test wickets.
Jamieson reached the milestone in just 9 innings, bettering the records of former speedsters Shane Bond (12) and Chris Martin (13).
The pitch on the third day didn’t change its character as it stayed low and slow but the Indian spinners did better as the time progressed by varying the pace of their deliveries.
During the session, Ashwin was seen involved in an animated discussion with umpire Nitin Menon after he decided to come round the wicket against Williamson and cautioned for walking on the dangerous area on his follow-through, which also obstructed the umpire’s view.
The intention was to create a few roughs with his bowling spikes in the region.
Menon, having understood the motive, had a word with Ashwin and skipper Ajinkya Rahane and after some discussions, normalcy prevailed.