Ind vs NZ second Test | ‘Perfect-10’ by Ajaz on an imperfect day for the Kiwis

Mohammed Siraj celebrates the wicket of Tom Latham on day 2 of the second Test against New Zealand in Mumbai on December 4, 2021.   | Photo Credit: PTI

India may have bundled New Zealand out for the lowest Test total ever and virtually sealed the game and the series with an imposing lead. Still, the second day’s play of the second Test will go down in the cricket annals for Ajaz Patel’s rarest of rare feats.

The New Zealand left-arm spinner joined England’s Jim Laker and India’s Anil Kumble in the Perfect-10 Club to make the Wankhede Test his own. That Ajaz (10/119) achieved it in his hometown — he migrated to Auckland when he was eight — makes the accomplishment all the more special.

Follow-on not enforced

Despite Ajaz’s clean sweep, Mayank Agarwal’s 150 (311b, 17x4, 4x6) and Axar Patel’s fifty (52, 128b, 5x4, 1x6) ensured India crossed the 300-run mark before the bowlers bamboozled a hapless Kiwi line-up. Notwithstanding a hefty 263-run lead, India opted to bat again and ended the day at 69 for no loss, with Mayank and Cheteshwar Pujara Keeping Ajaz and Co. at bay.

Ajaz, the crafty spinner, showed little signs of tiredness despite rolling his arm over for 29 overs on the opening day. In his first over of the day, he got rid of Wriddhiman Saha with an arm ball and straightened R. Ashwin up off the next ball to disturb the bails with a beauty.

Once Axar saved the hat-trick, he and Mayank, who continued his vigil from the first day with little trouble, negotiated Tim Southee’s spell with the new ball. With Kyle Jamieson struggling to find any rhythm, Ajaz replaced him after a solitary over by the lanky pacer.

Ajaz was rewarded for his guile as, a ball after Mayank notched up his 150 with a square cut, the opener misread the drift and turn to be caught behind off the backfoot.

By then, with Ajaz having earned all the seven wickets, the anticipation of his Perfect-10 was building up. And the bowler persisted from the Tata End to finally get rid of Axar when the left-hander didn’t offer a shot off one that turned in sharply and New Zealand succeeded in its review.

Ajaz’s next over turned out to a momentous one with Jayant Yadav holing out at long-off and last man Mohammed Siraj’s wild heave ending up in a skier to mid-on.

New Zealand batters couldn’t really build on the high of Ajaz’s feat. Siraj, with a spirited spell up front, broke the backbone of the Kiwi batting. The pacer struck thrice in his fiery spell, dismissing openers Will Young (caught by a lunging Kohli at second slip) and Tom Latham (caught at deep-square through a short-ball ploy) before bowling a peach that sneaked through Ross Taylor’s defence.

Leader of the pack

A DRS review off Henry Nicholls denied Siraj of a hat-trick as the ball pitched slightly outside leg. At 17 for three, the stage was set for the spinners to take over and the trio didn’t disappoint. Ashwin yet again emerged as the leader of the pack with four scalps with New Zealand innings lasting only 128 minutes.

With Shubman Gill tending to his elbow after he got hit at forward short-leg, Pujara opened the innings with Mayank. And the duo ensured India ended the day with a hefty 332-run advantage.

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Printable version | Jan 22, 2022 8:58:50 PM |

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