In the final analysis India will emphatically see this as its day. New Zealand leads by 244 runs with the last pair at the wicket, and on a surface this anodyne, there is no need to fret over chasing these scores. Neither side had been definitively on top at tea, when the tourist was 135 ahead and four down, but R. Ashwin’s simple ambush swung the contest.
Three New Zealand wickets the off-spinner took in the final session, to finish the day with five for 69. He remains one dismissal away from his 50th, and a splendid way to cap off this rampant series it would be too, should he get there on the fourth morning.
The visitor had begun its second innings 12 runs ahead, a margin that would have been greater but for Ashwin’s sensible batting in the rearguard. Umesh Yadav had not made much of an impression with the ball in the first essay, but sharing the new ball with Zaheer Khan, turned in an appreciably improved effort here.
He bowled full and with a measure of control that had been missing on the first day, and found swift reward.
First Martin Guptill inside-edged a full toss onto his legstump before Brendon McCullum nicked off to the ‘keeper (a good delivery it had been, straightening sharply upon pitching).
From 31 for two, Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor embarked on a period of consolidation, but they added only 38 runs before Ashwin had the former caught at first slip. It was the first of four promising partnerships that would end harmlessly early.
Taylor’s was always going to be an important wicket and it was Pragyan Ojha that delivered it, the batsman out lbw trying to sweep. The captain had looked comfortable during his 35 and ought to be cross for not having carried on.
New Zealand went into tea 123 for four, and five overs on the other side, it was Daniel Flynn’s turn to go.
He survived the sweep — evidently his favoured mode of dismissal on this tour — but edged Ashwin to slip.
James Franklin and Kruger van Wyk then compiled the best stand of the Kiwi innings, 55 for the sixth wicket. Neither had seemed unduly troubled until Ashwin, yet again, snapped the deadlock. He first claimed van Wyk (31), and five overs later Franklin (41), who set off on a preposterously ill-advised charge down the wicket and was stumped.
Doug Bracewell and Tim Southee perished minutes before the close of play, handing the advantage, conclusively, to India.
In the morning, New Zealand had claimed the second new ball at once. And almost immediately there was success.
Virat Kohli and M.S. Dhoni only lasted long enough to raise their full and half-centuries before Tim Southee had them both, in largely similar fashion.
The 23-year-old bowler had been omitted at Hyderabad but this was to be a historic session for him. Kohli shouldered arms to a couple that swung away before treating the next delivery in the same manner; it nipped back in and trapped him in front.
Dhoni prodded forward at least, but he was out leg before too, Southee’s fifth victim this innings. Zaheer and Ojha became his sixth and seventh, and at 320 for nine India looked headed for a reasonable deficit.
Ashwin, though, batted admirably with the last man Umesh Yadav. The pair added 33 runs for the last wicket as the home side headed back in a little before lunch. Southee finished with seven for 64, the best figures returned by an overseas player at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium, and the best by a Kiwi on Indian soil.