India picked up three crucial wickets, including one each on the first and last balls of the second session, to leave the final session of the ongoing first Test against New Zealand tantalizingly poised. At tea in the Green Park Stadium, New Zealand are 125/4 in 63.1 overs, with at least 31 overs to survive while India need six wickets to take a 1-0 lead in the two-match series.
After not getting a wicket in the first session, India got one on the very first ball post-lunch as William Somerville tried to pull a short ball from Umesh Yadav, but it flew to Shubman Gill, who came running in from fine-leg and completed a superb forward diving catch.
Yadav continued to trouble Latham and Kane Williamson, getting a lot of deliveries to keep low and targeted towards the stumps. But the duo continued to put up a defiant show while hitting the occasional boundary. Latham brought up his second half-century of the match with three runs through mid-wicket.
But four overs later, Latham, in a bid to punch through the off-side, chopped on to his stumps off Ashwin. The dismissal also meant that Ashwin went past Harbhajan’Singh’s 417 wickets to become the third-highest wicket-taker for India (13th overall) in Test cricket.
Ross Taylor was nearly stumped on zero off Ashwin as there was no conclusive evidence to rule him out. His anxious stay at the crease ended on the stroke of tea as Jadeja trapped him plumb in front of the wicket.
Earlier, Latham and William Somerville put up a show of stubborn resistance to keep India at bay in a wicketless first session. The duo showed great application in scoring 75 runs in 31 overs. They were solid in defence, though Ashwin troubled them often; while plucking boundaries against the pace of Yadav.
Latham was the first to take a boundary off Yadav, glancing through fine leg while Somerville struck a straight drive. Somerville then crunched delightful back-foot drives on consecutive deliveries off Yadav through off-side and was lucky in getting a boundary off the outer edge off Ishant Sharma.
India seemed to be a bit frustrated over not getting their first wicket of the day. Such was the desperation to get a wicket that they took a review for a Latham lbw despite the impact outside the off-stump, thereby wasting a review as New Zealand survived the rest of the session unscathed.
Brief scores: India 345 and 234/7d against New Zealand 296 and 125/4 in 63.1 overs (Tom Latham 52, William Somerville 36, Ravichandran Ashwin 2/28, Ravindra Jadeja 1/21), need 159 runs to win.