Ashwin, batters take India closer to series win over New Zealand

Cometh the hour, cometh the man. On a Sunday afternoon at the iconic Wankhede Stadium, Ravichandran Ashwin raised his game to help India inch closer to another Test series win.ย ย 

After the Indian batters set New Zealand an unassailable target of 540 for the fourth innings of the second Test, Ashwin made life difficult for the Kiwi batters, claiming three wickets.ย ย 

Continuing from where he had left โ€“ a four-for in the first innings โ€“ Ashwin struck early to remove New Zealandโ€™s top three.


Daryl Mitchell (60; 92b) and Henry Nicholls (36 not out; 86b) stitched a 73-run stand for the fourth wicket to help New Zealand end the third day at 140-5, but it would still be a daunting task for the touring side to score another 400 runs and save the Test.ย 

In the absence of regular captain Kane Williamson, New Zealand was bundled out for 62 in the first innings, and the Kiwi top-order disappointed in the second essay, too. Tom Latham (6), Will Young (20), and Ross Taylor (6) appeared clueless against Ashwin, who ended the day with enviable figures of 17-7-27-3.ย 

On a track offering plenty of assistance for the spinners, New Zealand needed resilience, but the Black Caps were reeling at 55-3 at one stage. Mitchell and Nicholls then stepped up with their century stand, but India again turned the tide in the last session as Jayant Yadav caught Mitchell off Axar Patel. A few minutes later, Tom Blundell, too, walked back to the pavilion โ€“ run out for a duck.

Earlier, resuming the day on 69-0, openers Mayankย Agarwal and Cheteshwar Pujara extended the partnership to 107 before Ajaz Patel sent the former packing. While Agarwal, who scored a 150 in the first innings, was caught by Taylor for 62, Pujara (47; 97b), too, missed out on a half-century.ย 

On the second day of play, India had decided not to enforce a follow-on with a specific plan to allow the senior players more time to bat ahead of the South Africa tour. The Indian team management would be partly happy as Pujara and Agarwal looked in a good rhythm. Shubman Gill (47; 75b) and Virat Kohli (36; 84b) stitched an 82-run stand after the openers departed.

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The India captain, returning to the team after a short break, was cleaned up by Rachin Ravindra. Kohli โ€“ victim of a controversial dismissal in the first innings โ€“ hit Will Somerville for a six, but the old flare was missing for the better part of his 84-ball knock.ย 

However, the few thousand spectators at the venue were entertained as Axar Patel hit a quick-fire 41 off 26 deliveries. The all-rounder hit four sixes and three boundaries to help India reach 276-7 and declare the innings.ย 

While India reigned supreme, Mumbai-born Ajaz Patel, who entered the record books on Saturday by claiming 10 wickets in an innings, picked up four more in Indiaโ€™s second innings to take his match tally to 14 โ€“ the best by an opposition bowler against India in Test cricket.ย ย 

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