India off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin struck three early blows to put the hosts on course for a series-clinching victory against New Zealand in the second and final test at the Wankhede Stadium yesterday.
The hosts were five wickets away from a 1-0 series victory with New Zealand reaching 140 for five at close of play on day three, chasing an improbable target of 540 and with two days still remaining.
It was a much better showing with the bat from the world Test champions who managed only 62 in their first innings in reply to India’s 325 on a pitch offering plenty of assistance to the spin bowlers.
Ashwin, third on the list of most successful Indian Test bowlers with 426 scalps, dismissed stand-in captain Tom Latham lbw before the players left the field early for the tea interval due to a technical problem with the Spidercam.
The wily 35-year-old returned to send back Will Young and Ross Taylor in the and reduce New Zealand to 55 for three.
Daryl Mitchell and Henry Nicholls shared a stand of 73 before left-arm spinner Axar Patel dismissed the former for an attacking 60.
The touring side’s problems were compounded when Tom Blundell had a brain fade moment and was run out without scoring.
Nicholls survived nervous moments but remained unbeaten on 36 with Rachin Ravindra on two not out.
“Obviously, it’s a very, very long road ahead but hopefully we can build some partnerships and play ourselves in,” Ravindra said yesterday.
“Two of them (Mitchell and Nicholls) showed us how to get it done and we will hope to build on it.”
Earlier, the hosts declared on 276 for seven, ensuring their bowlers had enough time to dismiss New Zealand after the opening Test in Kanpur ended in a thrilling draw.
A day after becoming only the third bowler to pick up all 10 wickets in a Test innings, the Mumbai-born Ajaz Patel picked up four more to take his match tally to 14.
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