Cricket

India vs. New Zealand | Classy Williamson propels New Zealand

Ishant’s strikes keep India in the game; Taylor digs in with his skipper to raise 93 for the third wicket

Kane Williamson picked the length early and played the ball late like great batsmen do. He had the time to essay his shots and the timing to ease the ball between fielders.

Men such as Williamson play with the field, they open up gaps, disrupt bowlers’ rhythm, create opportunities. Yet, his innings on Saturday, the second day of the first Test at the Basin Reserve, ended in anticlimactic fashion.

Quality innings

His strength, the cover-drive, proving his undoing. Williamson could not keep his shot off seamer Mohammed Shami down and was held by substitute Ravindra Jadeja, diving forward. Nevertheless his 89 was an innings of quality and substance.

Yet credit to the Indians — dismissed for 165 — for fighting back. They hung in there, continued to keep attacking fields and hit back in the last session. New Zealand was 216 for five when play reached an early conclusion because of insufficient light.

Earlier, the host was coasting at 166 for two — a potentially huge lead in sight — when Ishant Sharma got a delivery to climb into Taylor (44), who, unable to keep the sphere down, was picked up by short-leg.

The dismissal ended the 93-run third-wicket partnership between Taylor and Williamson. Kohli did well to keep the short-leg.

Then, late in the day, the left-handed Henry Nicholls was held in the slips off an Ashwin delivery that spun away.

The Indians kept the belief. Even after the Kiwis had surpassed the Indian score, Kohli had a slip and two short-legs when Ashwin operated at Williamson, well into his 80s.

There was some turn and bite for Ashwin and, if the Indians can set a reasonable target in the fourth innings, he could be a handful. He bowled against the wind and there was some drift for him.

Off-colour Bumrah

Apart from Ishant, who tested batsmen with his line and bounce to scalp three, the Indian pacemen largely disappointed. Jasprit Bumrah was off-colour.

The seamers should have bowled a fuller length that the Kiwi pacemen had employed with success to test footwork and find edges.

They needed to force the Kiwi batsmen to come forward to well pitched up deliveries and cover for the swing. If they didn’t do so, they would be caught at the crease.

Ishant struck for India when the Kiwis replied; he had Tom Latham taken down the leg-side and castled Tom Blundell (30), who played some fluent pulls and cover drives, with a nip-backer.

And the 100-Test man, Ross Taylor, walking in to a memorable ovation, joined his skipper.

Williamson was already into his groove, stroked off either foot — the cover-drives, the on-drives and the cuts. The skipper was in control.

Taylor had his own methods of coping with the pressures of a personal milestone. He slog-swept Ashwin for a six, and then leaned into a cover-drive off Bumrah.

The mercurial Taylor’s cuts scorched the turf; on view was his bat-speed.

Quick end

Earlier, the Kiwis made short work of the Indians — the host needed just 13.1 overs on the second morning to remove the last five wickets.

Rishabh Pant began with a rousing six, smoking left-arm spinner Ajaz Patel over long-on. However, a poor judgment call from Ajinkya Rahane — he ran without caution after playing Tim Southee to point — resulted in Pant being run-out; Ajaz scoring a direct hit from point.

Then, Southee removed Ashwin off his next delivery, a mean ball that pitched on middle and hit off.

Bowling against the wind, Southee was able to get his out-swingers going.

Rahane (46) did not last long either, unable to take his bat away in time to a Southee ball, delivered wide of the crease.

Comical drop

Despite some brave blows by Shami and a comical drop by Williamson when the wind took the skier away from him, the Indian innings concluded soon.

There were four wickets each for Kyle Jamieson and Southee, a combination of the new and old.

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Printable version | Apr 8, 2020 1:03:48 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/cricket/india-vs-new-zealand-classy-williamson-propels-new-zealand/article30890890.ece

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