It was bowlers’ day out in Christchurch as 16 wickets fell on the second day of the Test between India and New Zealand on Sunday, 1 March. At the end of it all, India were 90/6, a lead of 97, in their second innings.
The day began with the New Zealand openers resuming their first innings on 63, but India’s pacers had come out with intent, and went on to bowl them out for 235, seven runs short of India’s first-innings 242.
However, India’s batsmen once again struggled, especially against short balls, and by the time the stumps were drawn, it was New Zealand sitting on the driver’s seat.
India began the day on the ascendancy, however. And that was largely down to the pacers bowling fuller lengths than they have this series. That caused all sorts of problems for New Zealand, especially with significant movement on offer in the morning.
Tom Blundell was the first to fall, with just three runs added to the overnight scoreboard, when Umesh Yadav rapped him on the pads plumb with a full delivery that moved in. Three overs later, India had the big fish, Kane Williamson, with the New Zealand captain feathering an edge to a wide-ish Jasprit Bumrah delivery through to the ‘keeper.
Tom Latham and Ross Taylor then put up a resistance, adding 40 runs for the third wicket with a watchful partnership. It prompted Virat Kohli, the India captain, to turn to Ravindra Jadeja, the left-arm spinner, and the move did the trick as Taylor looked to charge him, and ended up sending a leading edge to backward point where Umesh took a fine catch.
The slide then continued. Latham’s fine stint that lasted 122 balls for 52 was ended when he misjudged a Mohammed Shami delivery, shouldering arms to see the ball seam in and rattle the stumps. Henry Nicholls also fell to Shami, sending an edge to slips, and the slide continued till the 9th wicket, when Neil Wagner and Kyle Jamieson put on a gritty 51-run stand.
That partnership helped New Zealand recover somewhat and post a total close to India’s first innings. Then, their bowlers took over. India’s batsmen never looked settled, and bowlers didn’t allow them that luxury.
Mayank Agarwal was the first to fall, Boult sending in an absolute peach to trap him plumb in front for 3. Prithvi Shaw (14) was then undone by Tim Southee when he sent in a short delivery, and Shaw, in no position to play it, lobbed it to the slips.
Cheteshwar Pujara and Kohli then put on 25 for the third wicket, with Pujara, in particular, looking to grind away. Kohli seemed a tad more adventurous, though, and he was caught on the front foot when he was trapped lbw by a Colin de Grandhomme delivery that came in.
Ajinkya Rahane had to cope with a barrage of short-pitched deliveries, and he didn’t do too well – he copped a couple of blows on the helmet, and eventually fell chopping one on from Neil Wagner while attempting to ride the bounce. When Pujara was then dismissed for an 88-ball 24, the writing was on the wall for India.
Umesh, who was sent in as nightwatchman, lasted 12 balls before he became Boult’s third wicket, and the stumps were drawn shortly after that, with G Hanuma Vihari and Rishabh Pant nervously seeing the day through.
They have plenty to do on the third day if India are to salvage something from the series.
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