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Well begun but undone by New Zealand

cricket Updated: Oct 10, 2016 22:14 IST
Kushal Phatarpekar
Kushal Phatarpekar
Hindustan Times
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From 118 for no loss, the Kiwis were bowled out for 299.(Anshuman Poyrekar/HT PHOTO)

Throughout this series, New Zealand have shown fight and fortitude, only for their game to cascade into chaos.

Take Day 1 for example, they formed a robust base by pegging India back to 100 for three only to let them off to score over 550 runs.

On Day three, it was their openers, Tom Latham and Martin Guptill, who formed a neat base for the team to launch a fightback with the bat.

However, the game soon unravelled for the visitors like it had on the opening day. This time it was their middle-order batsmen who failed to build on their openers’ effort. From 118 for no loss, the Kiwis were bowled out for 299.

The fall was drastic on a wicket which the openers had proved did not have many demons. There was unpredictable bounce, but there was turn only for those who strived for it. R Ashwin was that man for India but was kept in check by Guptill (72) and Latham (53).

Later, batting all-rounder Jimmy Neesham too made an impact with a well-made 71.

However, they could only do so much. It was their best batsmen in the middle order who had to step up if the Kiwis wanted to salvage something from the game.

A lot was expected from skipper Kane Williamson, one of the best batsmen in the world. It was his time to shine on Monday. His biggest hurdle was to get past Ashwin, which proved too difficult for him.

Ashwin lured Williamson into almost lunging forward repeatedly. He then surprised him with a quick one to push him on the back foot, and the Kiwi batsman dragged one on to the stumps.

“I come into a series with a plan, especially taking off from where Kane Williamson got out in Bangalore when they came here last year. He lunged forward and got out at slip. That’s one of the things I thought I would repeat in this series,” Ashwin said.

Ross Taylor was the next man in. He averages over 46 while Williamson and Luke Ronchi, who is playing only his fourth Test, average over 50.

Taylor, the most experienced batsman in the side, was found wanting after facing just four balls. He played inside the line and pushed hard at the delivery only to get the outside edge.

Good fortune too failed to shine on the visitors as Guptill was run out backing too far at the non-strikers’ end with bowler Ashwin deflecting Ronchi’s drive on to the stumps.

Overall, the Kiwis did what Kohli and Rahane resisted from doing on Sunday. They played across the line, tried to sweep or cut nearly every ball that turned.

Kohli and Rahane hit the majority of their runs down the wicket. Williamson, who missed the second Test due to a stomach bug, was the key. He had tackled spin well in Kanpur, but did not replicate it here.

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