Jadeja, Ashwin spin out Kiwis; India take grip over Test
Kanpur : The spin duo of Ravindra Jadeja and R Ashwin exploited a turning track to the fullest to bundle out New Zealand for 262 as India took firm control of the first cricket Test by extending their overall lead to 215 here today.
Jadeja (5/73) dismissed three batsmen in one over for a five-wicket haul while R Ashwin (4/93) grabbed four wickets as the Indians spun out New Zealand early into the second session.
At draw of stumps, India were 159/1 in their second innings which gave them an overall lead of 215. India lost KL Rahul (38) before Murali Vijay (64) and Cheteshwar Pujara (50) scored briskly to put the hosts in command.
New Zealand had started the day at a strong 152 for one but lost four wickets in the morning session. Their last five batsmen were dismissed for just 24 runs in the second session as Indian spinners ruled the roost.
While the Kiwis struggled to negotiate spin on a deteriorating track, the Indians were hardly troubled in their second innings with Pujara and Vijay going for their shots.
The Kiwi bowlers toiled without success post tea as Vijay and Pujara raised an unbeaten 107-run stand for the second wicket, scoring all these runs in the last session.
Vijay’s knock came off 152 balls with seven shots to the ropes and one over it while Pujara struck eight boundaries in his 80-ball stay so far.
It was this pair of Pujara and Vijay that had troubled the visitors with their resolute half-centuries in the first innings as well.
Leg-break bowler Ish Sodhi had Rahul caught at first slip in the fag end of extended second session. The umpires called for tea break, immediately after Rahul’s wicket.
After starting the day in position of strength the New Zealanders could add only 100 runs to their overnight total with Ashwin and Jadeja exposing visitors’ shortcomings in handling spin.
The Indians too had faltered in their first innings from being 154 for one to 318 all out.
Jadeja ran through the lower order in the post-lunch session by dismissing Mark Craig (2), Ish Sodhi (0) and Trent Boult (0) and Ashwin closed the innings by catching BJ Watling (21) in his follow through as the Kiwis lost last five wickets for just 24 runs in 10.5 overs.
The Indian spinners had started the rot by taking three wickets in the space of 24 balls in the morning session when Ashwin removed both the overnight batsmen — Tom Latham (58) and captain Kane Williamson (75) — and Jadeja got rid of danger man Ross Taylor for a duck.
Luke Ronchi (38), who had warmed up for the series with a century in the Delhi practice game, went about his business fearlessly as he took the fight to the rival camp.
He drove and cut Ashwin to boundary ropes with confidence and steadied the Kiwi innings along with Mitchell Santner (32), who was sent ahead of the more-experienced BJ Watling.
They added 49 runs for the fifth wicket before Jadeja trapped Ronchi with a full length delivery.
Ronchi, who hit six boundaries in his 83-ball innings, tried to sweep but the delivery was too full for that shot.
India took the new ball immediately after 80 overs and asked Umesh Yadav and Mohammed Shami to start the post-lunch session. However, they remained ineffective and the ball was given to Ashwin, who responded with the wicket of Mitchell Santner (32).
That was Ashwin’s first ball of the session which turned from middle and leg, took and edge, lapped up by Wriddhiman Saha.
Jadeja was on verge of a hat-trick with wickets of Kraig and Sodhi in successive balls but Boult denied him the milestone before handing a catch to forward short-leg fielder in the last ball of the over.
Since the final session was washed out yesterday, the match began 15 minutes ahead of the scheduled start.
Ashwin provided India the first breakthrough by trapping Tom Latham (58) in the fifth over of the day. It was a straight ball that struck the pads of Latham, who lunged forward to block it. The Kiwis had added only seven runs to their overnight total at that time.
With that dismissal, the 124-run partnership between Williamson and Latham ended.
The Kiwis had hardly settled when Jadeja, who was getting good turn and bounce, sent back Taylor, who also tried to defend on the front foot but was caught in line.
After two quick blows, the Kiwis needed Williamson to stay but Ashwin saw the back of rival captain with a peach of a delivery that turned sharply from outside off to hit the stumps.
Ashwin and Jadeja had bowled testing 10 overs in tandem when India captain Virat Kohli brought part-timer Murali Vijay into the attack to bowl his off-breaks, replacing Jadeja.
Perhaps the motive behind the move was that New Zealanders’ footwork was cagey against off-spin and a left-hander in Santner was also at the crease.
However, the pressure, which was created by Ashwin and Jadeja got released.
Further, the introduction of paceman Yadav into the attack brought relief for the visitors, since handling pace was much easier than the spin. That was 18th over of the day.