Vijay, Pujara stretch lead after Jadeja, Ashwin heroics

Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja picked nine wickets between them to bowl out Kiwis for 262, before Murali Vijay and Cheteshwar Pujara hit half-centuries to stretch India's lead to 215 on Day 3.

Ravindra Jadeja

Ravindra Jadeja and team-mates successfully appeal for Trent Boult's wicket after Rohit Sharma took a dipping catch in Kanpur on Saturday.   -  V.V. Krishnan

Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin had provided enough omens to Tom Latham and Kane Williamson on Friday afternoon before rain halted play. On a cracked, rough third-day wicket, they broke the formidable second wicket stand before running over the rest of the Kiwis.

>Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Jadeja, scalping five in Tests for the fifth time, and Ashwin, picking four, bowled the opposition out for 262, giving India a 56-run lead. Murali Vijay and Cheteshwar Pujara, who struck their second half-centuries of the match, then extended the lead to 215 after K. L. Rahul fell for 38.

 

Rahul, who made an eloquent 32 in the first innings, swept and reverse swept the spinners, evoking raucous cheers from a big turnout at Green Park. He upper-cutted Neil Wagner who, despite a slow, dusty wicket, persistently attempted bouncing the Indians. Rahul, who leaves less than his opening partner, fell trying to cut Ish Sodhi’s wide delivery to the point boundary. The ball instead carried to Ross Taylor in the first slip.

Vijay and Pujara dealt with Mark Craig and Sodhi in boundaries after Tea, perhaps urged by the looming clouds and the overs washed away yesterday. They scored 35 in the first five overs that followed the intermission, slowing down only after the clouds cleared.

With New Zealand spinners hardly threatening, Vijay and Pujara strolled through the overs, scoring singles and punishing the bad balls. Vijay scored the most against Craig. He even indulged himself with a blistering hit over wide long-on off the off-spinner.

The New Zealand spinners failed to do to the Indian batsmen what the Indian spinners did to New Zealand.

Resuming from 152/1, Latham and Williamson scored a streaky seven runs before the former fell, ending a 124-run stand — the first century stand by a visiting team since 2013.

Ashwin, bowling around the wicket, set Latham up with three deliveries that spun away from the left-hander. Then, going wide of the crease, he looped the ball that landed in line of the stumps. Latham, expecting the ball to turn away, was bringing down his bat to block. But the ball rushed to his front pad that was before the wicket, breaking down the New Zealand resistance.

 

But Williamson’s dismissal provided the bowler more delight. The batsman picked the delivery that was full on the sixth stump. But before Williamson could decide what to do with it, it turned quick and vigorous, clipping his off-stump.

Ross Taylor, who averages the best against Indians in this squad, failed to score. He leaned to defend a delivery off Jadeja that pitched and straightened swiftly, striking his front pad that was before the wicket.

Luke Ronchi, playing his second Test, resisted for 83 balls, scoring 38 before falling to Jadeja. There are better ways to play a full, straight delivery but Ronchi chose to sweep. The ball struck before he could connect.

The lunch break was longer than the five wickets that followed. After Umesh Yadav and Mohammad Shami bowled five overs with the new ball, Virat Kohli unleashed Ashwin and Jadeja. The rest of New Zealand’s batsmen were scoured within six overs — the last four wickets tumbled in 10 balls.