India was rewarded for the patience of its bowlers: Axar Patel

The left-arm spinner says the Indian team didn’t panic despite not having picked up a single wicket in 67 overs. 

Axar picked up his fifth five-wicket haul in Test matches as New Zealand was bowled out for 296.   -  AP

New Zealand’s opening batters were hard to dislodge but the Indian team didn’t panic at any stage despite going wicketless for the first 66 overs of the innings, left-arm spinner Axar Patel said at the end of the third day’s play.

Tom Latham and Will Young put on 151 runs, the second-highest first-wicket partnership by a New Zealand opening pair in India, and the highest since 2003.

Will Young was the first to depart deep in the first session on Saturday for a graceful 89 (214b, 15x4). Kane Williamson, the captain, fell to Umesh Yadav at the stroke of lunch, but it was only after lunch that New Zealand’s innings started to deteriorate.

Axar picked up his fifth five-wicket haul in Test matches as New Zealand was bowled out for 296.

RELATED | IND vs NZ: Axar Patel picks fifth fifer in four Tests

“If you don’t have wickets in the first 67 overs, you do feel a bit worried, but Ajju bhai [Ajinkya Rahane] and Rahul bhai [Dravid] kept the dressing room calm,” Axar said.

“They were saying we need to have patience. One wicket can bring us a few more and then it’ll open up for us. The patience with which we bowled in the first and second sessions gave us the rewards today. We knew that we have five bowlers and one of us will step up, and it happened,” he explained as he weighed in on the day’s play.

Axar revealed there was just a minor change in his bowling from Day Two – the better use of the bowling crease.

“I was using the crease more today; hadn’t used the crease so much in the 10 overs I bowled yesterday. It helped me get more purchase from the pitch,” he said.

But the pitch wasn’t a minefield yet, observed Axar, saying that India’s batters will be able to score runs if they play with graft and patience.

“Our batters were also in the ground, they have an idea. If you’re playing according to the merit of the ball, there’s nothing much happening. The odd ball is turning sharply or staying low. Only if they bowl with patience can they cause our batters some trouble. What we’ll tell our batters to do is to wait for the bad ball to score runs,” he said.

Will Young, though, thought the cracks on the pitch were starting to open up.

“Right from Day One, there were visible cracks on the wicket. End of Day Three, the cracks are opening up a little bit further. Three days’ worth of fast bowling created footmarks and bit of a rough for spinners to aim at. Obviously, the rough has grown, but also the cracks are starting to open up fractionally. A lot of our batsmen were undone by low bounce as well,” he said.

ALSO READ | IND vs NZ, 1st Test, Day 3: Axar unleashes his wizardry, wrecks New Zealand

Will Young said finding the right balance between attack and defence in these conditions was a challenge.

“Each batter has gone out there with their own method of how they’re going to combat the conditions and the bowlers who are highly skilful in these conditions. Different days, different methods work. It is tricky to find that balance between defence, spending time in these conditions, and also aggression, and how to take those calculated risks. It will be really interesting to see how both teams go about that as the game progresses.”

The Test is nicely poised - India 63 runs ahead in the second dig with nine wickets in hand.

For more updates, follow Sportstar on :