New Zealand 101 for 2 (Williamson 12*, Taylor 0*) trail India 217 (Rahane 49, Kohli 44, Jamieson 5-31) by 116 runs
Seven wickets for 71 runs with the ball. Two wickets for 101 runs when batting. New Zealand wrested back control of the World Test Championship final after a first day that would have left them nervous after they had won the toss and inserted India.
New Zealand were now trailing by 116 runs with eight wickets in hand. Both teams, though, know that the conditions are treacherous and ripe for collapses, the kind that was seen in the morning. Which is why despite only 144 overs of cricket in the first two days, a result cannot be ruled out. A maximum of 294 overs remain in the Test thanks to the reserve day, but the forecast for day 4 is not promising.
Things did look promising for India at the start of the day with Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane resuming a 59-run stand and domination a session’s batting away. That, however, was a long way away if the bowlers got it right in overcast conditions aiding swing and seam. And New Zealand got it spot on unlike at the start of the Test.
Jamieson found swing each way, and also seam to go with it, and hardly bowled any loose balls. Three overs into the day, having bowled only six balls out of 93 until then that would have hit the wicket, Jamieson produced the perfect seventh. Full, just outside off, making Kohli defend the line, and then finding the seam movement to defeat him and trap him in front. Kohli failed to add to his overnight score.
The flamboyant Rishabh Pant found nothing he could score off without taking extravagant risk. He chose not to take the risk. So he had to wait 20 balls to score his first run. Before that he survived a close lbw call through an umpire’s call. Finally he threw his bat at a wide one, and the movement took the edge, sort of justifying his earlier restraint.
Rahane now looked for some urgency, but walked straight into the Neil Wagner short ball trap. This happened four balls into the 79th over. The field went back. Two men behind square on the leg side, two just in front and also a deep midwicket. The plan was telegraphed, and was, in all likelihood, going to last three balls before they took the new ball. Rahane, though, took the first short ball on, and failed to keep it down, giving forward square leg an easy catch some 30 yards from the wicket.
India were down to needing runs the allrounders now at 182 for 6, something they had done regularly in Australia against tired bowlers and a softer Kookaburra. R Ashwin did provide 22 quick and crucial runs, but once Tim Southee found his edge, the rest folded quickly to a five-man seam attack in conditions not even remotely as trustable as those in Australia.
India were unrelenting in the areas they bowled, which shows in New Zealand’s run rate of barely over two an over, but they didn’t find the swing that New Zealand bowlers did. The seam movement they did find was enough to create 53 false responses from the batsmen, giving them a control percentage of around 82, which wasn’t way better than India’s. India lost all their 10 wickets in 108 false responses.
So there was an element of bad luck around, especially with Mohammed Shami, whose anomalous numbers in England continued after 11 wicketless overs, but he had both the openers in trouble. He hit the shoulder of both their bats only for the edges to balloon over the cordon. Conway and Tom Latham didn’t make India’s job easier, playing with great discipline.
As the partnership grew and went past 50, India might have missed a fourth seamer had R Ashwin not put in a performance of class, bowling not even a single bad ball in his first eight overs that went for 10 runs, and then getting Latham caught at short extra cover in his ninth, ending the partnership at 70.
Kane Williamson and Conway recovered from that loss, and even began to accelerate before a cloud arrived and India’s seamers strung together 24 dots. Then Ishant Sharma overpitched on the pads, Conway saw release, unfurled that extravagant flick he plays with his back leg in the air, but was early into the shot and ended up caught at wide mid-on. A repeat of his dismissal from the last Test when he found deep square leg instead. Two balls later, the umpires took the players off for bad light.
Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo