As was the case in the two-test series between these two teams in New Zealand, the lower order contribution proved to make the difference: New Zealand’s last five wickets added 114 to the 61 of India. Still, their lead was only 32.
New Zealand started the day – an hour after the match shot due to a drizzle – 116 behind with eight wickets in hand, but Indian bowlers made sure New Zealand didn’t run away with the game . It was a controlled bowling masterclass under favorable conditions, yielding nothing to New Zealand and finding enough wicket deliveries in between.
In the second half of the innings, however, Williamson found support from Kyle Jamieson and Tim Southee, whose risks against a now tiring three-man stitching attack turned out to be. New Zealand’s last five games added 114 in 29 overs, which defied the running rate of around two in the remainder of the game.
Before the lower order slipped out of their hands, Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah and Ishant Sharma made one hell of a change to make sure New Zealand didn’t shut them out of the contest. They did it the hard way: not to look for the magic balls but to dry up the lanes with a good, sustained and intense bowling. Between them, the three played all the overs in the first session, followed by a half-hour break leading to the second new ball in the second session.
A good indicator of the quality of the bowling and the surface is the speed at which Williamson scores as he is a masterful hitter who plays according to the situation. His 49 out of 177 balls were his slowest innings of 20 or more balls. The last time New Zealand scored less than its 152 here in the first 80 overs in a set was in 2002.
Throughout the first session, you could count the number of regular balls on one hand: two inswingers on the side of Ishant’s leg that went unpunished and a half volley each from Shami and Bumrah. Only 34 races came in this session for the wickets of Ross Taylor, Henry Nicholls and BJ Watling.
Taylor swung hard at the sight of the first full ball he got and ended up chipping halfway through. Nicholls followed a swinger outside. Watling got a peach from Shami, who stung in the middle and made it to the top.
At the start of the second session, India had to give in a bit because the new ball was seven times. This is where the score rate started to spin, but with the new ball Shami trapped Grandhomme’s Colin with a wide inswinger on the crease to make it 162 for 6. Jamieson, however, used his reach well. to go after bowlers. A ball after hitting the first six of the match, he landed a hook to fall on Shami for 21 of 16.
New Zealand was still at 25, and Williamson has now increased his intention slightly. He cut Shami’s top off for a four, started looking to open up his face a bit whenever he was allowed to go back, but always chose limits only on bad balls, which has increased now that the three fast bowlers were about to play two sessions of bowling alone.
Williamson will be angry with himself that in such a situation he followed a wide Ishant ball with an attempt to step back with his foot, possibly leaving a few points there. Southee, however, made sure to take the lead after 30, hitting two sixes, passing Ricky Ponting to move up to No.15 on the test cricket six-hitter list.
However, it was Southee the bowler who kept New Zealand in the race for victory with very skillful bowling. India started to fight with the final session of the day, a situation reminiscent of their defeat in Christchurch where they lost six wickets in the final one-day session after both sides’ opening innings were virtually called off. .
This terrain had a steep, uneven bounce. It was now finally installed in the third day of use. There was nothing outside of the field available for New Zealand bowlers, but swinging with the Dukes was always a difficult proposition. Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill seemed in control, but Southee was just a little better.
Gill was taken out in the 11th when Southee followed three outswingers with a last-moment seam position change, playing his swinging, rocking seam delivery. Gill looked towards Midwicket, meaning he was beaten on the inside edge and stuck in the front.
Rohit looked more confident and, in company with Cheteshwar, Pujara was heading for stumps when Southee returned for a second testing spell. They must have taken the Jamieson exam before Southee took over. Fifteen minutes before the stumps, he took out Rohit with the inswinger, but this time with a seam delivery, only with the shiny side on the outside. Rohit inflated and received a lbw.
Virat Kohli and Pujara played the tough last 15 minutes, but knew they had work to do on the last morning, reserve day.