Ashwin puts India on track to win series over New Zealand

Ashwin puts India on track to win series over New Zealand

MUMBAI, Dec 5 (Reuters) – India’s Ravichandran Ashwin landed three early shots to put the hosts on the road to a series win against New Zealand in the second and final Test at Wankhede Stadium on Sunday.

The hosts were five wickets of a 1-0 series win with New Zealand reaching 140 for five at the end of the game on day three, chasing an unlikely goal of 540 and with two days remaining.

It was a much better bat performance from the world test champions, who managed just 62 in their first innings in response to India’s 325 on a pitch that provided plenty of assistance to the spinning bowlers.

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Ashwin, third on the list of most successful Indian test bowlers with 426 scalps, fired reserve captain Tom Latham lbw before the players left the field early for tea interval due to a technical problem with the Spidercam .

The astute 35-year-old returned to send Will Young and Ross Taylor back in and cut New Zealand down to 55 by three.

Daryl Mitchell and Henry Nicholls shared a position of 73 before left-arm spinner Axar Patel ruled the first for 60 on attack.

The touring team’s problems were compounded when Tom Blundell had a blackout moment and was left without a score.

Nicholls survived the nervous moments, but was undefeated at 36 with Rachin Ravindra in two not eliminated.

“Obviously it is a very, very long road ahead, but hopefully we can build some partnerships and get involved,” Ravindra said. “Two of them (Mitchell and Nicholls) showed us how to do it and we look forward to building on it.”

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Previously, the hosts declared 276 for seven, ensuring their players had enough time to fire New Zealand after the opening test in Kanpur ended in an exciting draw.

THIRD BOWLING

A day after becoming the third pitcher to collect all 10 wickets in a test inning, Mumbai-born Ajaz Patel landed four more to bring his game tally to 14.

Left arm spinner Ajaz finally received support from his slow bowling colleagues with halftime left arm Rachin Ravindra winning 3-56.

New Zealand fast bowlers again failed to lift a wicket, but prevented Indian batsmen from scoring freely with a tight line around the wicket.

Resuming at 69-0, India starters Mayank Agarwal and Cheteshwar Pujara extended their partnership to 107 before Ajaz sent the former back.

Agarwal was caught by a confident 62 to add to his score of 150 in the first inning. Pujara also appeared to be ready for half a century, but got caught in the landslides by 47.

Regular starter Shubman Gill, who didn’t hit his usual position after taking a hit to the elbow while fielding, also missed a half-century coming out at 47, as did India captain Virat Kohli, who hit 36.

The all-rounder Axar provided fireworks during its undefeated 41st, entertaining the Sunday crowd on the ground overlooking the Arabian Sea with four sixes and three fours in its 26 innings.

“As time goes on, the track is slowing down a little bit, so today, even when there was a turn, the hitter had enough time to get on his back foot and negotiate,” Axar said.

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“Only if the hitter is making mistakes, then it’s a little difficult for him. We’ve been in countless situations like this and we know what to do in these circumstances.”

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Sudipto Ganguly Report; edited by Ed Osmond

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