Kanpur Test | Cricket

Axar takes five as India bounces back to bowl out New Zealand for 296

Ravindra b Ravindra: Rachin Ravindra is bowled by Ravindra Jadeja during third day of the first Test cricket match between India and New Zealand, at Green Park stadium in Kanpur, Saturday, Nov. 27, 2021   | Photo Credit: PTI

A touch of familiarity returned to the proceedings once Indian spinners turned things around.

After New Zealand laboured to a 151-run opening stand and consolidated further to 197/1 in the over before lunch, it was India all the way on the third day of the first Test here.

In the space of 99 runs, India cleaned up nine wickets and kept the Kiwis to 296 for a 49-run first-innings lead. India seized the psychological advantage by taking four wickets each in the second and third sessions, in sharp contrast to the corresponding sessions on Friday when the host went wicket-less.

When India batted again, Kyle Jamieson exposed Shubman Gill’s technical deficiency by shattering his stumps for the second time in three days. Cheteshwar Pujara joined Mayank Agarwal and prevented further damage with India ending a fine day at 14/1 - a lead of 63 with nine wickets in hand.

India now needs to score in a calculated manner on Sunday to have any chance of forcing the issue on Monday. With the pitch clearly assisting spin and a few deliveries staying low, the Indian spinners
could prove handful in the fourth innings.

If India returned to the right course, it was mainly due to the left-arm spin of Axar Patel. Playing only his fourth Test, Axar collected a five-wicket haul for the fifth time in seven innings.

It all started in Axar’s 19th over when he reinforced the belief that Ross Taylor was vulnerable to slow left-armers. The delivery caught the outside edge of Taylor’s bat and substitute wicketkeeper K. S. Bharat - on for Wriddhiman Saha who did not take the field due to a sprained neck - snapped it.

In his next over, Axar had Henry Nicholls leg-before following a missed sweep. His persistence paid off when opener Tom Latham lost his patience when just five runs short of a century. Seeing Latham step out,  Axar dropped one wide. The ball found the left-hander’s gloves, bounced once before reaching Bharat who effected a neat stumping.

In the post-tea session, Axar bowled Tom Blundell with the one that stayed low and added a fifth wicket by shattering Tim Southee’s stumps.

Before Axar got into the wicket-taking act in the second session, India struck two vital blows in the first.

R. Ashwin, who took the last two wickets, was instrumental in providing the breakthrough in the 67th over of the innings when Will Young edged a flat delivery and Bharat stayed low to grab the offering.

After Axar was given the second new ball in the 85th over, Umesh Yadav bowled the next over - last before lunch - and trapped Kane Williamson leg-before. The length was just right to keep Williamson on the
backfoot. After he chose to review, his dismissal signalled the lunch interval.

Trailing, Williamson and his men will come hard at the host on Sunday. Much depends on how India mixes application with aggression to press home the advantage.

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Printable version | Jan 22, 2022 5:20:52 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/cricket/india-vs-new-zealand-kanpur-test-day-3/article37715994.ece

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