India on verge of another defeat
Visitors’ top-order batsmen squander Shami-Bumrah’s brilliant fast-bowling spell
Christchurch: India's top-order frittered away a golden chance with another shoddy batting show as New Zealand regained complete control of the second Test after Mohammed Shami and Jasprit Bumrah's hostile fast-bowling spell had given the visitors a slender first-innings lead here on Sunday.
Shami (4/81 in 23.1 overs) and Bumrah (3/62 in 22 overs) were brilliant in their execution, dismissing New Zealand for 235 in 73.1 overs as they showed why they are one of deadliest fast bowling pair in Test match cricket.
However, India's top-order failed miserably once again as New Zealand bounced back, reducing India to 90 for six in their second innings at stumps on day two as a third day finish is on the cards.
India is now effectively 97 runs ahead with only four wickets in hand and it will take a herculean effort to avert another series whitewash after the ODIs.
Trent Boult (3/12 in 9 overs) got Mayank Agarwal (3) and Cheteshwar Pujara (24) with conventional inswingers that tails into right-handers. Prithvi Shaw (14) was out in familiar fashion, fending a short ball from Tim Southee, while skipper Virat Kohli's (14) indecisive footwork brought his downfall once again.
Vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane, who was hit on the helmet, paid the price for an ugly shot, while Umesh Yadav expectedly didn't survive a rampaging Boult after he was inexplicably sent in as nightwatchman when nearly half an hour was left.
"In our culture, we don't look at blaming anyone. Everyone is trying very hard and we know how the sport works. Some days, if as a bowling unit we don't pick up wickets that doesn't give the batsmen liberty to take our case, isn't it?" asked pace spearhead Jasprit Bumrah, as he defended the batsmen after the game.
A target of 250 in the fourth innings could well be a challenge for the Black Caps as there is still something in the track for the speed merchants despite batsmen getting a value for their shots.
India would have ideally hoped that skipper Kohli would end his dreadful tour of New Zealand with one big knock but it was not to be as Colin de Grandhomme trapped him leg before with an off-cutter. No wonder Trent Boult was happy having kept Kohli quiet.
"Obviously, he is a big player for them and we just tried to put enough pressure on him, keep him quiet and soak up those boundary balls, and it was nice to see him make a few errors," Boult said about the Indian captain whose highest score in the whole series is 19.
In the morning, the first two sessions belonged to Shami and Bumrah, who were nothing short of brilliant with their precision length, sideways movement and an occasional heavy ball that was slipped in between.
Ravindra Jadeja (2/22 in 10 overs) did exactly what was required. He also took a stunning acrobatic one-handed catch in the deep to dismiss Neil Wagner (21), which will be remembered for years to come.
Bumrah and Shami were relentless in bowling that probing off-stump line which never let any of New Zealand batsmen settle down.