Ashwin, Jadeja help India wrest back advantage (Tea report)

Kolkata, Oct 3 (IANS) India wrested back the initiative from New Zealand as spinners Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja reduced the visitors to 135/3 at tea, in pursuit of a 376-run target, on the penultimate day of the second Test on Monday.

Ashwin (2/62) and Jadeja (1/25) dented the tourists’ fightback in the second session of the play at the Eden Gardens here.

Opener Tom Latham (74 not out; 144 balls, 8×4) notched up his ninth half-century to hold fort from one end as other top-order batsmen fell around him.

The hosts took 16 overs in the innings to get the first breakthrough. Ashwin pitched the ball fuller and it turned in from outside the off stump to catch Martin Guptill (24; 49 b, 3×4) off guard.

It was an important wicket just when the opening stand had started to look steady, engineering a partnership of 55 runs. The second-wicket stand between Latham and Henry Nicolls (24) was of 49 runs, helping the Kiwis reach 104 when Nicolls fell.

With the wicket offering a lot of turn, Jadeja made the most of it. Changing his angle to outfox Nicolls, who failed to come fully forward to cover the turn, the left-arm tweaker got the outside edge of Nicolls’ bat with Rahane taking the catch at first slip.

Ross Taylor, who is standing in for indisposed captain Kane Williamson, lasted only 26 minutes in which the right-hander scored just eight runs before falling to Ashwin’s guile, dismissed leg before wicket. Taylor played the wrong line leaving umpire Richard Kettleborough with an easy decision to make as the ball hit Taylor’s front pad.

Earlier, resuming at 227 for eight, India were all out for 263 in their second innings.

Wriddhiman Saha, who had run out of partners in the first innings after scoring 54, once again anchored the lower order, remaining not out at 58 (120 balls, 6×4) — his fourth Test half century.

The two overnight batsmen, Saha and Bhuvneshwar Kumar (23; 51 balls, 2×4, 1×6) were involved in a 56-run partnership that helped India cross the 250-mark and set New Zealand a target which no team has ever achieved in the fourth innings at the famed ground.

The stand was broken in the 10th over of the morning session when Bhuvneshwar misjudged the bounce of Neil Wagner’s delivery and offered an easy catch to short leg. It was Wagner’s 99th wicket in 25 Tests.

–IANS

dm/sam/vt

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