Henry, Boult bring New Zealand back in contention (Tea report)

Kolkata, Oct 2 (IANS) New Zealand pacers exploited the tricky Eden Gardens track to the hilt to rattle India’s top order and bring back the visitors into the match during an absorbing and hard-fought post lunch session on Day Three of their second Test match here on Sunday.

At tea, India were 110/6 in their second innings, with Rohit Sharma (20) and Wriddhiman Saha (4) in the middle.

India are now 222 runs ahead of New Zealand, who scored 204 in their first innings in reply to the hosts’ 316.

The highlight of India’s batting on Sunday was a responsible and sublime knock by skipper Virat Kohli (45, 65 b, 7×4), who combined with Sharma for a 48-run fifth-wicket partnership that tried to steady the ship after Kiwi pacers Trent Boult and Matt Henry’s barrage of short-pitched offerings caused trouble to the willowers.

India lost four star batsmen cheaply after lunch, with Henry claiming three of them.

Henry picked up Murali Vijay (7) off the fourth ball of the session, with the angled delivery moving away after pitching close to the off stump and inducing a nick that finished in the hands of the second slip fielder Martin Guptill. The Indian opener had got out to the same bowler in the first innings.

The Christchurch-born then saw the back of Cheteshwar Pujara (4) in his next over with a leg before verdict, but television technology indicated the ball could have missed the leg stump.

Dhawan, who was struggling against the rising deliveries and who once even took a hit on his left shoulder in the morning, became Boult’s first victim, reducing India to 34/3. The left hander offered a defensive bat to a delivery that cut in, and the leather struck his pad in front of the middle stump.

India suffered a further setback when Ajinkya Rahane (1) tried to pull a short ball from Boult and managed only a top edge to long leg.

Kohli and Sharma came together with the side precariously placed at 43/4.

Kohli, whose blade has never quite fired in Test matches at Eden Gardens, played some wonderful strokes, including an out-of-the-world on drive to Henry that rocketed to the fence. He also negotiated well the aggressive Boult, who kept up a nagging line on or a shade out of the off stump hoping for an edge.

But Boult finally won the duel with one that kept low bringing the Indian skipper to his knees and hit the pad.

Santner saw the back of Ravichandran Ashwin (5) close to tea, with the Indian falling leg before – the fourth Indian batsman to get out this way during the day.

In the morning, the visitors’ overnight batsmen put up a gritty fight to cut India’s lead to 112 runs.

Comeback man Jeetan Patel (47; 47b, 9×4) and wicketkeeper B.J. Watling (25) stitched together a 60-run stand for the eighth wicket after resuming at the overnight score of 128/7.

–IANS

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