India tighten stranglehold over New Zealand

By CHETAN NARULA 11 October 2016, 12:00AM

Ravichandran Ashwin took his 20th five-wicket haul on Monday as New Zealand was bowled out for 299 runs on day three of the third test in Indore. India then reached 18-0 in six overs at stumps, taking an overall lead of 276 runs.

The visitors started well, with Martin Guptill (72) adding 118 runs with Tom Latham (53). They were both dropped once. Ashwin then accepted a simple return catch to dismiss Latham before lunch.

The slide began after the break, as New Zealand lost four wickets for 14 runs. Ashwin bowled Kane Williamson (8), and then had both Ross Taylor (0) and Luke Ronchi (0) caught at slip, with Ajinkya Rahane pulling off sharp catches.

"Early in the spell, I try to get my alignment and rhythm going properly, and it's taking me a few overs," said Ashwin. "Once I go through it, and when my body starts going completely into the ball, the starts getting better. That was one of the spells after lunch," he said, after the close of play.

Guptill was unlucky to be run-out when Ashwin got his fingers off a Ronchi drive and deflected the ball onto stumps. James Neesham (71) added 53 runs with BJ Watling (23) to stem the rout.

But Ravindra Jadeja (2-80) struck on either side of tea to remove Watling and Mitchell Santner (22), who added 52 runs with Neesham. The all-rounder completed his fourth test half-century, before becoming Ashwin's fifth victim, trapped lbw.

It was the 20th five-wicket haul for the off-spinner and he became the quickest Indian bowler to achieve this milestone. He got there in 39 tests, as compared to Kapil Dev (98 tests), Anil Kumble (75 tests) and Harbhajan Singh (59 tests).

"We have had some good discussions. If somebody is batting well, he gives you different ideas about how differently you can bowl and what fields you can have," said Ashwin, about his interactions with Indian coach Kumble.

Jeetan Patel (18) was then run-out much in the same way as Guptill, Ashwin deflecting a dropped return catch from Matt Henry (15 n.o.) onto the stumps. Trent Boult (0) was last man out, caught in the deep off Ashwin, as the Black Caps surrendered a first innings' lead of 258 runs.

India didn't enforce the follow-on though. Gautam Gambhir, who injured his shoulder whilst fielding, walked off after facing seven balls as he aggravated his injury.

There was some surprise that the Indian captain chose to rest his bowlers with only six overs remaining in the day. "I was certainly preparing to bat. Tomorrow, I expect them to come out, play a few shots and put quick runs on board," said Latham, after the day's play.

Murali Vijay was unbeaten on 11, while Cheteshwar Pujara was not out on 1 run at stumps. The opener was given an official warning for running on the pitch, a second instance after Jadeja was penalised five runs for a similar offence in the first innings.

India has already won the three-match series with an unassailable 2-0 lead.


By CHETAN NARULA 11 October 2016, 12:00AM

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