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India v New Zealand, 2nd Test, Day 3 – 5 Talking Points

New Zealand
New Zealand. (Photo Source: BCCI)

India, after being initially rocked by the New Zealand fast bowlers, stretched its lead to a formidable 339 runs. Fans can thank Rohit Sharma who led India’s revival with his fluent 82. Day three began with BJ Watling and Jeetan Patel fighting it out in the morning session against Indian bowlers and narrowing the runs gap. India, however, folded up New Zealand 204 before lunch.

After giving away a big advantage to India, the Black Caps looked determined to deal India with aggression and the ploy worked as the hosts were rocked by early blows. But Sharma combined with skipper Kohli and Saha to rescue India out of trouble.

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1.New Zealand claw back a little:

BJ Watling and Jeetan Patel emulated what Luke Ronchi and Mitchell Santner did in the 4th innings of the 1st Test after the wicket-keeper – bowler duo helped their team claw back a little with their 60 runs stand for the 8th wicket.

The pair resumed batting on New Zealand’s overnight score of 128/7 and narrowed gap of runs of their team, batting together till the team total reached 182.

The pair came together during a delicate situation when the visitors were rocked by the double blow by Bhuvneshwar Kumar yesterday during the tea session which reduced them to 122/7. Watling opted for the defensive strokes and played a staunch 67 ball 25 run innings while Patel made a run a ball 47 run knock.

2. Black Caps fast bowlers trouble India:

The visitors, despite all their efforts, could manage only 208 and gave away an 112 runs lead to India. But, the Black Caps did not let the hosts exploit this advantage by letting them run away with the game straight away.

The fast bowlers sensed the variable bounce which the pitch was offering and mostly stuck to the back of good length and shorter lengths. The pitch did the rest of the job and left the Indians frustrating. Ross Taylor began attacking the Indians with his fast bowlers and the decision paid off almost immediately as Matt Henry struck twice in the morning while Trent Boult snapped one.

Henry gave the maiden breakthrough this morning by claiming both Murali Vijay and Cheteshwar Pujara in short successions. Later, Boult added Dhawan to his tally and put India in a spot of bother and adding spice to the contest.

3. Dhawan’s struggle continues:

The quick wickets at the top put the responsibility on the surviving Dhawan to prove his mettle. Although India lost two quick wickets, Dhawan logically had no reason to worry with his skipper Kohli at the other end. The left-hander tried to help but could not bat longer than 32 balls and was dismissed by Trent Boult in the 11th over, just three overs after Pujara’s departure.

Dhawan failed to defend the ball going across the stumps and was trapped fixed by a delivery which sharply nipped back in and hit his pad which was right in front of middle stump. Dhawan may have just lost an opportunity to prove his place in the team. He was under lot of criticism for underperforming lately and fans even suggested replacing him with Gautam Gambhir who was brought in the side for the injured KL Rahul.

Gambhir, who made his return to the squad after two years, was overlooked to give Dhawan the first priority. But with just 1 and 17 runs to show in two innings in this test, he may lose his place to the in-form Gambhir for the 3rd test.

4. A relief for Rohit Sharma:

Dhawan was not the only man under reassure to prove his place in the team. But, unlike, Dhawan, Sharma came out and played superb knock to rescue India and earn some Test format reputation. Rohit Sharma, the limited overs titan, also had the sword hanging over his head before the start of the match. While Dhawan was absolutely to able to get going, Sharma, on the other hand, was getting start but would flunk eventually because of rash shots.

Sharma came into bat when India was at a tricky 43/4. Vijay, Pujara, Dhawan and Rahane – all were back to the pavilions. The situation was delicate but there could have not been better way to regain the Test match credential than to perform under such high pressure situation.  He did that exactly and stroked his way to a fluent 82 run innings to rescue India. He was involved in two crucial partnerships – 48 for the 5th wicket with Kohli and a superb 103 for the 7th wicket with Saha.

5. Saha, the perfect supporting cast:

Saha continued to enjoy batting in home conditions and played yet another sensible knocks to help India regain ground after being initially struck by quick dismissals. The wicket-keeper batsman, who hit a brilliant 54 in the first innings, compiled an unbeaten 87 ball 39 run knocks to test the patience of the Kiwis.

He played a vital supporting role with Rohit Sharma to help India extend their overall lead over New Zealand comfortable. He was mostly the second fiddle who spent most of his time defending the ball and rotating the strike to the Sharma who was striking the smoothly. Together with Rohit, he hit 103 runs for the 7 wickets and enabled India to finish day three on a dominating position.

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