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India close in on big win in historic 500th Test

Last updated on: September 25, 2016 17:31 IST

IMAGE: Ravichandran Ashwin, centre, celebrates after taking the wicket of Kane Williamson. Photograph: Danish Siddiqui/Reuters

India positioned themselves for a massive win in their 500th Test match by polishing off the New Zealand top-order after setting them a colossal 434-run target, propelled by unbeaten half-centuries from Rohit Sharma and Ravindra Jadeja in Kanpur, on Sunday.

- Scorecard

New Zealand were reduced to 93 for four in their second innings with the exuberant Luke Ronchi (38) and the steady Mitchell Santner (8) at the crease when stumps were drawn on the fourth day.

The Black Caps require a history-defying effort to win the Test as no team has ever chased such a daunting target. They still need another 341 runs for victory with three sessions left on the fifth and final day, with the wicket giving the spinners a lot of assistance.

Rohit (68) and Jadeja (50) hit half-centuries to continue India's dominating performance with the bat, as they raised a 100-run stand in quick time after India had lost four wickets.

Left-arm spinner Mitchell Santner dismissed two batsmen  while Ish Sodhi and Mark Craig claimed a wicket apiece but only to see the next Indian pair hammer them around the park as India declared their second innings at 377 for five at the stroke of tea.

Rohit and Jadeja never looked uncomfortable on the deteriorating fourth-day Green Park track, entertaining the Sunday crowd with some quality strokes, including three sixes by the left-hander.

However, when Indian spinners bowled, New Zealand batsmen were were all at sea on the pitch as off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin removed both the openers  -- Martin Guptill (0) and Tom Latham (2) -- in the space of five balls to cause ripples in the rival camp.

IMAGE: Ravichandran Ashwin successfully appeals for the wicket of Tom Latham. Photograph: BCCI

Guptill was first to go as he got a bottom edge which trying to sweep and the ball went off his shoes and was caught at short leg while left-handed Latham was trapped leg before wicket.

Ashwin could have got Kane Williamson (25), when he was on 16, had Umesh Yadav held on to a tough chance at square leg boundary but the off-spinner did not have to wait for long to see the back of the New Zealand captain as he trapped him soon and completed a milestone of 200 Test wickets.

He is only the ninth Indian to get that figure but fastest among all, doing it in his 37th match. He bettered Harbhajan Singh's record, who took 46 matches.

Ashwin is the second fastest in the world to 200 Test wickets behind Australian Clarrie Grimmett, who reached the landmark in 36 matches.

A run out was the last thing that New Zealand needed but Ross Taylor blundered by not grounding his bat despite making it to the crease, attempting a couple of runs with Ronchi.

Ronchi had pushed the ball through covers and there was no scope of a run out. However, Yadav's direct hit converted it into a wicket out of nothing.

This happened after Ashwin saw a second chance grassed by the fielder off his bowling. Ronchi (on 3) drove him uppishly, edged the ball high in the air, but Murali Vijay could not catch it while running backwards.

IMAGE: Rohit Sharma hits out on Day 4. Photograph: BCCI

Negotiating a spin-friendly track with aplomb, Rohit Sharma and Ravindra Jadeja scored half-centuries to steer India to 377 for five in their second innings and set New Zealand a mammoth 434-run target to win the first Test in Kanpur, on Sunday.

After losing three wickets in the opening session, India also lost Ajinkya Rahane (40) before Rohit (68 not out) and Jadeja (50 not out) put on a brisk stand of 100 runs from 111 deliveries for the sixth wicket.

The moment Jadeja got a single off Mitchell Santner to complete his half-century, Indian captain Virat Kohli declared the Indian innings with the umpires calling for the tea break.

Jadeja celebrated his milestone in his trademark fashion by twirling his bat like a sword before the two batsmen walked off the field.

New Zealand are faced with a humongous task to save the Test as they need to bat four sessions to avoid defeat. No team has ever successfully chased such a big target in Test history.

Rohit and Jadeja played in contrasting fashion with the left-hander being more aggressive even as India scored 125 runs in the second session after Rahane was trapped leg before wicket by Santner.

Rohit's 68 came off 93 balls with eight boundaries while Jadeja entertained the Sunday crowd with two fours and three sixes in his 58-ball stay.

IMAGE: Mitchell Santner, centre, celebrates after taking the wicket of Murali Vijay. Photograph: BCCI

The hosts lost three wickets, including captain Virat Kohli, in the morning session but took their lead past the 300-run mark by adding 93 runs to the overnight total of 159 for one. Both overnight batsmen -- Murali Vijay (76) and Cheteshwar Pujara (78) -- departed along with skipper Virat Kohli (18).

Vijay and Pujara batted for about 10 overs together on Day 4 before left-arm spinner Mitchell Santner broke the 133-run stand between the duo by trapping the former plumb in front of the wicket.

The India opener played for turn but missed and was struck right in front of the wickets. Captain Kohli walked in to a boisterous welcome by the crowd and pulled a short one from Ish Sodhi to mid-wicket boundary to get going quickly.

Off-break bowler Mark Craig dismissed Kohli cheaply as the right-hander mishit a sweep shot, getting a top edge that flew to deep mid-wicket where Sodhi took the catch to dismiss him for 18, his second failure in the match.

Leg-spinner Sodhi ended Pujara's stay at the crease by having him caught by Taylor at slip after his second half-century of the match.

Craig troubled Rahane a lot and almost had him caught twice in the space of three balls but he survived. One chance went abegging at leg slip and the other at the short midwicket.

Rohit smashed Sodhi for a four and took India's lead to 300-run mark with a single off Craig.

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