Ashwin turns it on as India aim for four day finish against New Zealand
Mumbai: India’s middle-order worries going into South Africa series remained but that didn’t deter Ravichandran Ashwin from turning the heat on as his three quick blows left New Zealand tottering at 140 for five in pursuit of an impossible 540 on day three of the second Test.
While Daryl Mitchell (60 off 92 balls) and Henry Nicholls (36 batting) added 73 runs for the fourth wicket, there is no denying that India in all likelihood will finish it early on the fourth day with Ashwin (3/27) looking menacing after every passing over.
What will hurt New Zealand team most in this defeat is the fact that this is the game where one of its own — Ajaz Patel, equalled the world record and grabbed a match-haul of 14 wickets, something that no one has ever done against India in Test cricket.
The tall Mitchell at least tried to use his reach to counter Ashwin and also attack Jayant Yadav and Axar Patel but looked more like the last man standing, trying to delay the inevitable before a rush of blood saw him being holed at deep extra cover. Tom Blundell had a suicidal runout going for a non-existent single.
But it was Ashwin, who again got the new ball and immediately got into the act by removing skipper Tom Latham with an angular delivery while Will Young gave bat pad to forward short leg and Ross Tayor, who has been a walking wicket, failed miserably in his attempt to slog sweep the wily off-spinner.
There was one over where Ashwin literally toyed with left-handed Nicholls who couldn’t gauge which one would turn away like a classical off-break and the one that will straighten or come in with the angle.
But there will be some issues that would need coach Rahul Dravid’s urgent attention.
India declared their second innings at 276 for 7 after Axar hit four sixes and three fours in his 41 off 26 balls to prop up the innings towards the end.