Ashwin’s routine act and the certainty of a victory sum up Day 3 for India
Right from the moment India built a huge first innings score, a defeat seemed imminent for the New Zealanders.cricket Updated: Oct 10, 2016 16:52 IST
Right from the moment India built a huge first innings score, a defeat seemed imminent for the New Zealanders.
The wicket had started turning, even though not as viciously as wickets in India generally do, but the pressure to surmount a mountain of runs would always create uncertainty and panic in a team.
India are enjoying the comforts of first winning the toss, then following it up with the batting blitzkrieg of Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane. To foretell the rest of the script, you don’t need to be a clairvoyant, except perhaps if you are a die-hard New Zealand fan and hoping against hope for them to perform a miracle.
There can be nothing more miserable than waiting for the inevitability of a defeat. That has been New Zealand’s fate in this series, hammered more emphatically in this Test match.
Conversely there can be nothing more satisfying than the certainty of a victory, even while one makes allowances for the glorious uncertainties of cricket.
Countering a spinner of the quality of Ravichandran Ashwin in Indian conditions -- a dusty track where the ball grips and provides an uncertain bounce -- is never going to be easy. It is like entering a lion’s den, that too blind-folded.
The two openers Martin Guptill and Tom Latham did put up a spirited fight, playing the pacers with aplomb. For a while they even raised hopes of matching the Indians by countering the spin duo with a broad blade and supple hands.
It was not going to last, as lurking behind the shadows was the fear that a wicket would fall any time. And once Ashwin foxed Latham to close the blade of his bat a fraction earlier than he should have done, the resultant top edge landed in the bowler’s hands.
Ashwin’s spinning ball and Kane Williamson’s attempted cut dragged the ball onto his stumps. Ashwin now was, as he invariably does, weaving a spinning web that the New Zealanders found hard to escape.
Fate conspired to get rid of Guptill, with Ashwin’s midas touch playing a role in his run out. Ross Taylor, like he had done in Kolkatta, played for the turn, but the ball went straight through and Rahane took yet another sharp catch. Luke Ronchi was a victim of the same combination and when Ashwin trapped the aggressive Neesham leg before wicket, the Indian team were celebrating yet another five-wicket haul from the master spinner.
The way Ashwin is tossing and turning the ball and the batsmen continue to play him with the uncertainty of a toddler taking his first steps, no spinning record seems safe at the moment.
In these jubilant times for India, it is unlikely that the New Zealanders would put up a better fight in their second innings. At the end of the third day’s play, India look certain to celebrate a 3-0 whitewash of a team which play spinners with a numb mind and rooted feet.