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IND v NZ, 1st Test Day 4, Review: Ashwin pushes New Zealand on the backfoot

(Photo Source: BCCI)
(Photo Source: BCCI)

Off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin made early inroads in the Black Caps batting order to put India in a winning position at stumps on day four of the ongoing 1st test at the Green Park Stadium, Kanpur. New Zealand has an impossible looking target of 434 runs to win and will have to probably bat at their sturdy best if they wish to save the match or fantasise about win the match.

Resuming batting on their overnight score of India 159/1, India declared on 377/5 with the help of half centuries from Rohit Sharma and Ravindra Jadeja.

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The morning session was bit slow and sluggish for India. Murali Vijay could not continue to bat in the same way he did yesterday and was undone by Mitchell Santner without adding any significant amount of runs to his credit. Pujara, who batted in a surprisingly attacking style, also looked very cautious with his approach and scored runs at snail’s pace.

The day four pitch offered a good amount of turn for the NZ spinners creating problems for the Pujara and Virat Kohli. They were highly successful in keeping the pair silent forcing them into defensive mode.

Both occupied the crease for a reasonable amount of time but were unable to score runs smoothly. Both of them were able to add 49 runs for the 3rd wicket before departing in quick successions.

The overly defensive approach made Kohli bit restless forcing him to mishit a slog sweep straight into the hands of Ish Sodhi standing at deep mid wicket. Pujara also lost his wicket a couple of overs later falling to leg-spinner Ish Sodhi.

Their quick departure brought two new men – Ajinkya Rahane and Rohit Sharma – at the crease. It was a chance for both of them to make for the lack of runs in the first innings and they did not disappoint adding 49 runs for the 5th wicket to take India past the 250 runs mark.

The things had not eased out for India, however, as the spinners continued to trouble them. The Kiwis could have snapped both Rahane and Rohit before lunch. The chance came off mark Craig’s bowling when Rahane offered a low catching chance to Luke Ronchi at the short leg region.

The Kiwis dropped the second chance to remove Rahane after Williamson dropped a sharp chance at short leg. Rohit too would have departed cheaply. However, he survived after Kane Williamson put down a sharp chance standing close to the bat.

Rahane, unfortunately, ran out of luck and was missed escaping the dismissal for the third time after Santner made him nick one to Ross Taylor at first slips. Post lunch session became highly productive once Jadeja arrived at the crease and began counter-attacking the spinners with Rohit.

The duo added 100 runs at a quick rate. Kohli declared the innings as soon as Jadeja broke into his ‘Rajput style’ celebration after reaching his second test century. Rohit, who reached 1000 Test runs during the course of his innings, was unbeaten on 68.

The New Zealand, in response, were rocked by Ravichandran Ashwin opened the fourth innings with a burst of two wickets. Both the openers Tom Latham and Martin Guptill separated in the single over to leave Kiwis in a spot of bother early on.

Skipper Williamson and ross Taylor then battled it out for a considerable amount of time but their plan to play out the remaining overs of the session could nit work out. Ashwin once again intervened and trapped Williamson LBW to complete hi 200 wicket milestone.

Things became worse after Taylor also lost his wicket in a silly run out shortly thereafter. The Kiwis looked to be crumbling. Ashwin and Jadeja were getting enough zip out of the track to threaten a quick wrap up. But, fortunately, Luke Ronchi and Mitchel Santner made sure that there no further casualties and batted wonderfully to end the day safely for the visitors.

The Kiwis have a huge mountain to climb tomorrow. With 341 runs required to win with only 6 wickets in hands, chasing should be the second priority on their mind. Ronchi and Santner, both of whom proved their batsmanship in the final over of the day four, will have a huge responsibility to play out the maximum number of over tomorrow.

Brief Scores: 

India, 1st innings: 318 all out (M Vijay 65; T Boult 3/97)

New Zealand, 1st innings: 262  (K Williamson 75; R Jadeja 5/73)

India, 2nd innings: 377/5d (C Pujara 78; M Santner 2/79)

New Zealand, 2nd Innings: 93/4 (Luke Ronchi 38; R Ashwin 3/68)

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