Kanpur Test: India in driving seat as spin proves to be New Zealand’s undoing
Although this pitch wasn’t a snake pit, it was underprepared. It played well, but had spots that can unsettle the batsmen.cricket Updated: Sep 24, 2016 22:48 IST
Besides his all-round skills, Ravindra Jadeja also brings some earthy candour to the table. For someone who’d just picked a fifer to lead India’s revival on Saturday in the first Test, it would have been easy to boast and get away with it.
He did brag when it came to New Zealand’s batting effort against India’s superior bowling.
But importantly, he was honest to credit the surface more.
“I am used to bowling on turners and under-prepared wickets like this one,” he said. “I don’t try to turn, just bowl simple and straight and the pitch does the rest. Right from my junior days, I’ve been brought up on these kind of surfaces. I know what to do here.”
Under-prepared surfaces became a controversy late last year when South Africa toured India. Ahead of the season’s first Test, all eyes were on the Green Park wicket.
Although this pitch wasn’t a snake pit, it was underprepared. It played well, but had spots that can unsettle the batsmen.
HITTING RIGHT SPOTS
New Zealand were left to solve a ridiculous puzzle. From one end, R Ashwin was turning the ball, sometimes viciously, from those spots. Jadeja was firing in deliveries, many of which went straight.
The Kiwis needed to bat the entire day to give themselves a chance, but were caught in two minds. Sometimes they played for turn when they shouldn’t have. At other times, they didn’t when they should have.
The first wicket to fall on Day 3 was a classic example. Opener Tom Latham expected the ball to turn, but it didn’t and fell leg before.
Once they drew first blood, India had luck and brilliance in equal measure. Ross Taylor was unlucky to be given leg before to a Jadeja arm ball that seemed to be going down the leg. Then Kane Williamson, who was in command, got just the kind of delivery which could have dismissed him. The Kiwi skipper drew back to punch an Ashwin delivery outside off-stump through cover, but the ball hit a spot and darted in. Williamson’s reaction wasn’t quick enough and the ball beat bat and pad to hit the stumps.
New Zealand’s big three had fallen in the space of 11 runs and four overs early in the first session and India, back in the game, stamped their authority.
Success begets success, more so against a team that suddenly began looking like a cat on a hot tin roof. With some rearguard action, the Kiwis closed in on India’s total, but lost the last five wickets for seven runs, Jadeja taking three in one over.
A lead of 56 was enough to not just give India a boost but rattle the Kiwis. Their batting confidence dented, their bowlers could never exploit the cracks as India had done. Mostly, they kept the ball short and that gave breathing space as Cheteshwar Pujara and Murali Vijay took the lead to 215.
With two days to go, this game looks as good as sealed in India’s favour.