Ravichandran Ashwin vs Kane Williamson, a battle we cricket geeks were itching to see all this time. The New Zealand skipper was rested in the Kolkata Test due to illness. He scored 57 and 25 in the series opener, being dismissed by Ashwin on both occasions. On both occasions, Ashwin sharply spun the bowl in. He was adjudged lbw in the first innings and castled in the second. The combat with India‘s numero uno Test cricketer vs New Zealand‘s finest batsman kept the Indore crowd on the edge of their seats.
There is turn on this track but not enough to outfox a batsman of Williamson’s class. Ashwin knew he had to play with Williamson’s mind. Let alone an ace spinner, Ashwin has a reputation of that of a thinking cricketer. He read the game well. In short, he is an astute reader of the game. He started off with a length delivery, pushing Williamson on the back foot. He followed it up with a tossed-up delivery and a back-of-length delivery. The fourth ball stayed low, however. The trajectory was flatter. The penultimate delivery was again a dot. Ashwin had, by then, set Williamson up.
Ashwin had one delivery left to get the better of Williamson. Ashwin emulated his first delivery: a length ball. All the same, he bowled in the rough. Williamson was forced to go the back foot. The sharp turn left him very little time to keep it down. He dragged it onto the stumps instead. And with that, Ashwin dismissed Williamson for the fourth time in his career.
In came Ross Taylor at No. 4. His last four scores read: 0, 17, 36 and 4. These scores are ordinary for a batsman who averages 46.74 in Test cricket. Nonetheless, Indian spinners often caught him in trance. And it took only four deliveries for Ashwin to send him back to the pavilion. In fact, it was Taylor’s foot work that brings his downfall in the subcontinental conditions. He does not get to the pitch of the ball. He simple leans forms and taps his bat. He either gets lbw or edges the ball. As a result, it isn’t that tough a task to dismiss him. However, this time, he edged it behind wickets.
Guptill soon joined Taylor in the pavilion. An unlucky dismissal, must say. Luke Ronchi hit straight to Ashwin, who then deflected it onto the stumps and Guptill was adjudged run out.
And the another one bit the dust. It was Ashwin in the thick of things, dismissing the in-form Ronchi. Amidst the Ashwin show, Rahane stole the limelight.
Ronchi’s thin outside edge hit Wriddhiman Saha’s gloves, ricocheting to Rahane’s left. As a matter of fact, Rahane now has more catches than matches.
New Zealand’s half the side was in the pavilion, trailing by 409 runs.
At crease was James Neesham, who scored a blistering 137 on debut against India. Hence, getting carried away would put India off track. He looked patchy at start but freely scored runs once he got his eye in.
Kohli wisely rotated his bowlers, knowing he had only four bowlers in his arsenal. It was hot and humid at Indore. Surviving under such scorching heat isn’t easy for any spectator. In addition, the game is being played for 8-9 hours; in fact, 8-9 gruelling hours. Therefore, rotating bowlers at regular interval helps the captain keep him bowlers fresh.
Just before tea, Kohli counterattack with spin from both ends. One more wicket and New Zealand would have been under fire.
Jadeja provided the same, dismissing the dangerman BJ Watling.
New Zealand go into tea at 216 for 6, trailing India by 341 runs.
India 557 for 5 decl. (Virat Kohli 211, Ajinkya Rahane 188; Trent Boult 2 for 113) lead
New Zealand 216 for 1 (Martin Guptill 72, Tom Latham 53; Ravichandran Ashwin 4 for 65) by 341 runs