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1st Test: Spinners come to life as Team India catches Kiwis napping on Day 3

Rohan Raj | Updated on: 10 February 2017, 1:47 IST

Having carelessly allowed New Zealand to dominate Day 2, the Indian cricket team came back strong on the third day of the first Test to put the visitors on the backfoot at the Green Park stadium in Kanpur on 24 September.

It was a complete turnaround from what appeared like an ordinary effort on 23 September as the Indian bowlers looked more threatening and the batsmen more determined during the third day's play.

India's premier spin combo of Ravindra Jadeja (5-73) and Ravichandran Ashwin (4-93) finally found their rhythm, while the lack of concentration by the New Zealand batsmen allowed the duo to claim nine scalps between them.

After the bowlers skittled out New Zealand for 262 runs in the first innings, it was time for the Indian batsmen to back them up. And, Murali Vijay (64*) and Cheteshwar Pujara (50*) sensibly led India's batting charge to end third day's play at 159/1.

For a team that had bowled well and batted sensibly in unfamiliar conditions, the third day couldn't have been any worse for New Zealand. The visitors, who were in front with an unbroken century stand to their rescue, suffered a concerning batting collapse against India.

The morning session had set the tone for India as the Kiwis lost three wickets in 23 balls early in the day. If that wasn't enough, the New Zealand middle-order was caught napping by the Indian bowlers who went on to claim five more scalps in a mere 29 balls after lunch.

Jadeja, Ashwin spin a web

After the rain denied the hosts a chance to probe the Kiwis in the third session yesterday, the Indian spinners made full use of the conditions early in the third day's play to bring their side back into the game.

Jadeja and Ashwin, India's two best bowlers in such conditions, found the right pace and looped the ball up to deceive the set batsmen in flight. To the sheer delight of their skipper Virat Kohli, the duo bowled in tandem to exert pressure from both ends on the opposition batsmen.

The results were overwhelming as Jadeja clinched his fifth five-wicket haul in Test cricket. On the other hand, Ashwin's variation in spin and pace earned four wickets - including the priceless wicket of Kane Williamson (75).

The great batting collapse

A dominating display derived out of a cautious and sensible approach on Day 2, no one would have expected New Zealand to stutter in such a contrasting fashion. Tom Latham (58) became the first casualty of the the third day after losing his wicket to Ashwin early on.

In the very next over, New Zealand lost their third wicket to Jadeja who trapped Ross Taylor (0) in front of the stumps. The New Zealand skipper was next line as he was cleaned up by an absolute beauty from Ashwin.

After the 124-run stand between Williamson and Latham, the visitors failed to find steady partnerships before eventually being bowled out for 262 runs. Luke Ronchi (38) and Mitchell Santner (32) tried to rebuild the innings with a 49-run stand, but the Indian spinners proved a tad too good for the duo.

Bearing full brunt of Indian spinners, the Kiwis saw five of their batsmen being dismissed for a single-digit score - including four ducks. The visitors will surely have to produce a much-improvised and more determined performance if they intend to trump India in the remaining two days.

Key statistics

The top-three batsmen in India's batting-order - KL Rahul (32,38), Murali Vijay (65,64*) and Cheteshwar Pujara (62,50*) - have recorded scores of 30 or more in both the innings of the Kanpur Test. It is only the fifth such instance for India in Test cricket. The last time such instance occurred was back in 2008 during India vs Australia Test match in Mohali.

The 52-run opening stand between KL Rahul and Murali Vijay in the second innings is their first-ever fifty-run partnership in Test cricket. Their previous highest opening stand in five Test innings is 48 runs.

New Zealand lost their last five wickets for a mere seven runs - their second-lowest in an away Test. They had also lost their last five wickets for just five runs against Sri Lanka in 1992-93.

Indian spinner Ravindra Jadeja has now taken three five-wicket hauls in the first innings of a Test match. He has taken only two fifers in the second innings of a Test so far.

New Zealand captain Kane Williamson has enjoyed a prolific form in the longer version of the game. With an impressive average of 86.20 as captain, Williamson's scores in his last seven Test innings read: 91, 113, 68*, 2*, 77, 5, 75.

Former New Zealand captain Ross Taylor has scored a shocking one run in his last three Test innings this year. Surprisingly, he amassed 364 runs without being dismissed in his first three innings of 2016.

Tom Latham and Kane Williamson, who registered a 124-run stand in the first innings, now have six century stands in just 24 innings in the longest format. They have now equalled Ross Taylor-Williamson and John Wright-Dean Jones for the most Test century stands by any New Zealand pair.

First published: 24 September 2016, 6:35 IST