Ajaz Patel picks up two quick wickets after lunch on the second day to bowl India out for 345
Innings India 345 (Iyer 105, Jadeja 50, Ashwin 38, Southee 5-69, Jamieson 3-91, Ajaz 2-90) vs New Zealand
Southee didn’t have to wait long to get his man, though. A similar delivery in his next over drew a similar, leaden-footed response, and this time the ball rattled into the stumps via the inside edge.
The wickets kept coming. A pair of full outswingers that weren’t quite full enough to drive prised Wriddhiman Saha and Iyer out; the first, delivered from wide of the crease, drew an off-drive down the wrong line, and the second, delivered from the middle of the box and swerving away straight out of the hand, scrambled the batter’s shape on the drive, the slowness of the pitch also contributing to the ball being spooned to cover point.
Then, in his eighth over of the morning, Southee alternated inswingers to the left-handed Axar Patel with scrambled-seam balls that straightened off the pitch. Axar played and missed at the first scrambled-seam ball, and hung his bat out and edged the second to the keeper. India were 313 for 8.
By then, Ashwin was already on 20 off 22 balls, having come in and taken on Southee’s outswingers, steering, slicing and driving him for three fours in the arc between backward point and extra-cover. Southee kept his spell going for three more overs in the quest to finish the innings off, but Ashwin farmed the strike, refusing singles in the early part of his overs to keep Umesh Yadav away from the strike as much as possible.
Ashwin could have been dismissed for 16 when he stepped out to Ajaz and missed an attempted lofted hit, with the ball scooting through unexpectedly low. The ball, however, narrowly missed off stump and bounced off Tom Blundell’s pad before he could react. It could have been the first wicket to fall to a spinner in this Test match, but as on day one – when he missed reviewing an lbw decision against Shubman Gill – the luck wasn’t quite with Ajaz. It turned after lunch, though, as Ashwin fell first, perishing in his quest for quick runs, and Ishant Sharma followed, trapped in front.
But those deliveries, and the ones that shot through, would have thrilled India’s bowlers no end. Southee may have bowled New Zealand back into this Test match, but they will be batting last on this surface.
Karthik Krishnaswamy is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo
(With Inputs from ESPN)
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