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PICS: India poised for thumping win over New Zealand

Last updated on: December 05, 2021 18:44 IST
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Images from Day 3 in the second Test between India and New Zealand, in Mumbai on Sunday.

India's wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha runs out New Zealand's Tom Blundell in the second innings on Day 3 of the second Test, in Mumbai, on Sunday.

IMAGE: India's wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha runs out New Zealand's Tom Blundell in the second innings on Day 3 of the second Test, in Mumbai, on Sunday. Photograph: BCCI

India's middle-order worries going into the South Africa series remain, but that did not deter Ravichandran Ashwin from turning the heat on. He struck three quick blows to leave New Zealand tottering at 140 for 5 in the second innings, in pursuit of an impossible 540, at close on Day 3 of the second Test.

While Daryl Mitchell (60 off 92 balls) and Henry Nicholls (36 batting) added 73 runs for the fourth wicket, there is no denying that India, in all likelihood, will wrap the match early on the fourth day with Ashwin (3 for 27) looking menacing after every passing over.

 

What will hurt the New Zealand team most is the fact that this is the match  where one of its own -- Ajaz Patel -- equalled a world record and grabbed a match-haul of 14 wickets, something no one has ever done against India in Test cricket. 

Ravichandran Ashwin celebrates with his India teammates after dismissing William Young.

IMAGE: Ravichandran Ashwin celebrates with his India teammates after dismissing William Young. Photograph: BCCI

The tall Mitchell at least tried to use his reach to counter Ashwin and also attack Jayant Yadav and Axar Patel, but looked more like the last man standing, trying to delay the inevitable before a rush of blood saw him being caught at deep extra cover.

Tom Blundell had a suicidal run-out going for a non-existent single.

Cheteshwar Pujara takes the catch to dismiss Ross Taylor off Ravichandran Ashwin's bowling.

IMAGE: Cheteshwar Pujara takes the catch to dismiss Ross Taylor off Ravichandran Ashwin's bowling. Photograph: BCCI

But it was Ashwin who again got the new ball and immediately got into the act by removing skipper Tom Latham with an angular delivery, while Will Young gave bat-pad to forward short leg and Ross Tayor, who has been a walking wicket, failed miserably in his attempt to slog sweep the wily off-spinner.

There was one over where Ashwin literally toyed with the left-handed Nicholls, who couldn't gauge which one would turn away like a classical off-break and the one that will straighten or come in with the angle.

There are some issues though that will need coach Rahul Dravid's urgent attention.

Daryl Mitchell scored a gutsy 60

IMAGE: Daryl Mitchell bats during his gutsy 60. Photograph: BCCI

For India, even in what could be a facile victory, the wobbly middle-order will keep them worried going into the South Africa series.

Ajinkya Rahane failed in the first Test and had to be dropped on the pretext of a hamstring niggle. Cheteshwar Pujara had three bad innings and one where he looked better but that was after the pressure was released by the bowlers.

Skipper Virat Kohli, whose primary aim of not enforcing follow-on was to get some batting time under his belt, also did not look confident during a scratchy innings of 36 off 84 balls.

Axar Patel celebrates the wicket of Daryl Mitchell

IMAGE: Axar Patel celebrates the wicket of Daryl Mitchell. Photograph: BCCI

India declared their second innings at 276 for 7 after Axar hit four sixes and three fours in his 41 off 26 balls to prop the innings towards the end.

Their confidence already shattered, the New Zealand bowlers conceded as many as 25 fours and 11 sixes in the 70 overs they bowled in the second innings. In fact, all Indian batters save Wriddhiman Saha hit at least one six.

Kohli's idea of batting again was partially successful because Pujara did look good during his 47 and Mayank Agarwal (62, 108 balls) did his cause no harm by smashing another half-century to top up his first innings score of 150.

The duo added 107 runs for the opening stand to add insult to New Zealand's injuries and it was compounded by another 82 runs that Shubman Gill (47) added with Kohli.

Morning session

Mayank Agarwal celebrates after completing a half-century on Day 3 of the second Test against New Zealand, in Mumbai, on Sunday.

IMAGE: Mayank Agarwal celebrates after completing a half-century in the morning session on Day 3. Photograph: BCCI

Mayank Agarwal and Cheteshwar Pujara compounded New Zealand's misery with a 107-run opening stand as India took complete control of the second Test by reaching 142 for 2 at lunch.

India's overall lead is now a mammoth 405 runs and only one team can win this game from here, with two days and two sessions left.

At the break, Shubman Gill, who did not come out to open in the second innings after being hit on the wrist during New Zealand first essay, was batting on 17, with Virat Kohli (11) by his side.

Agarwal (62 off 109 balls) and Pujara (47 off 96 balls) made Ajaz Patel (2/77) look pretty ordinary although he now has a dozen wickets in this Test.

Cheteshwar Pujara plays a shot

IMAGE: Cheteshwar Pujara sends the ball to the boundary. Photograph: BCCI

But it was not before Agarwal and Pujara hit a flurry of boundaries in the morning session to put the pressure back on the bowlers.

Pujara made a statement as he twice stepped out to identical flighted deliveries and whipped them through mid-wicket. This was the delivery that got him yorked in the first innings but he looked very comfortable in the second.

Ajaz Patel celebrates after dismissing Mayank Agarwal in the second innings.

IMAGE: Ajaz Patel celebrates after dismissing Mayank Agarwal in the second innings. Photograph: BCCI

Agarwal was also in fine nick as he completed his second fifty-plus score of the match with an effortless six over extra-cover off Patel and then hit another boundary through the same area.

For a bowler, who already has 12 wickets in the match, Patel would feel that it's a trifle insulting that Agarwal hit him for a total of five sixes and even a defensive batter like Pujara lofted him for a maximum.

New Zealand's players celebrating the wicket of Cheteshwar Pujara

IMAGE: New Zealand’s players celebrate the wicket of Cheteshwar Pujara. Photograph: BCCI

Agarwal was looking good for his second hundred of the game but, in a bid to hit another six off Patel, he could not reach to the pitch of the delivery and Will Young comfortably took the catch at long-off.

For Pujara this was the best chance to get a fifty and increase his confidence before the tour of South Africa.

He survived a strong DRS appeal but then one delivery that was pitched slightly fuller and turned, got his outside edge in slip fielder Ross Taylor's safe hands.

Post-Lunch session

India's skipper Virat Kohli bats during Day 3

IMAGE: Skipper Virat Kohli bats during India's second innings on Day 3 of the second Test against New Zealand, in Mumbai, on Sunday. Photograph: BCCI

Skipper Virat Kohli scored a painstaking 36 off 84 balls but Axar Patel entertained the crowd with a fiery cameo as India looked well on course for an imposing victory.

India declared their second innings at 276 for 7 after Axar hit four sixes and three fours in a 41 off 26 balls to prop up the innings towards the end.

Rachin Ravindra celebrates the wicket of Virat Kohli.

IMAGE: Rachin Ravindra celebrates the wicket of Virat Kohli. Photograph: BCCI

Ajaz Patel's match-haul of 14 wickets -- best by an opposition bowler against India in Test cricket is unlikely to save New Zealand from an embarrassing defeat, as they went to tea at 13 for 1 after Ravichandran Ashwin dismissed Tom Latham (6).

Axar Patel hits over the boundary.

IMAGE: Axar Patel clobbered four sixes and three fours in his 41 off 26 balls. Photograph: BCCI

Early tea had to be taken after a spider cam, which came down, couldn't be fixed and the umpires had to call for a break.

Their confidence already shattered, the New Zealand bowlers conceded as many as 25 fours and 11 sixes in the 70 overs they bowled in the second innings. In fact, all Indian batters, save Wriddhiman Saha, hit at least one six.

Ravichandran Ashwin celebrates the wicket of Tom Latham.

IMAGE: Ravichandran Ashwin gets a round of high-fives from Cheteshwar Pujara and skipper Virat Kohli after dismissing Tom Latham in New Zealand's second innings. Photograph: BCCI

Having bowled out New Zealand for 62 in just over 28 overs, India could have easily enforced follow-on but skipper Kohli wanted the senior players, including himself, who are horribly out of form to gain some runs.

His idea was partially successful as Cheteshwar Pujara looked good during his 47 and Mayank Agarwal (62, 108 balls) did his cause no harm by smashing another half-century to top up his first innings score of 150.

The duo added 107 runs for the opening stand to add insult to New Zealand's injuries and it was compounded by another 82 runs that Shubman Gill (47) added with Kohli.

Save a six that he hit off opposition's weakest link, Will Sommerville, Kohli for the better part of his 84 balls, didn't look convincing before being played on by a friendly left-arm spin from Rachin Ravindra, who also had three wickets.

Patel, despite his four-wicket haul in the second innings, looked pretty ordinary although he got both of them.

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