Trent Boult took three quick wickets as India's lead just neared 100 at the end of day 2 in the Christchurch Test. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)
When New Zealand arrived on day 2 of the Hagley Oval Test in Christchurch against India, they held all the aces. The openers, Tom Blundell and Tom Latham, had stitched a solid stand of 63 and were looking good to impose themselves on an Indian cricket team attack in bright and sunny conditions. However, Mohammed Shami bowled with pace and generated good movement off the seam. Jasprit Bumrah, under the scanner for his rusty show in Wellington, got into rhythm and bowled well as the middle order floundered. Kyle Jamieson frustrated India and ate into their advantage but India still managed a lead of seven thanks to some superb fielding from Ravindra Jadeja. By the end of the day, Trent Boult and the New Zealand bowlers regained the advantage as they razed the top order and Virat Kohli's India were left reeling at 90/6 at stumps on Sunday.
A total of 16 wickets had fallen on the second day and it was the most-ever at the Hagley Oval. With India's hopes now resting on Hanuma Vihari, Rishabh Pant and Ravindra Jadeja, India will now be hoping to set a target in excess of 200 in order to make this a match. The tone of the day was set by the bowlers and it was Umesh Yadav who started the proceedings when he trapped Tom Blundell in front for 30. Bumrah then struck with the massive wicket of Kane Williamson for 3 and India were in the contest.
Tom Latham and Ross Taylor found run-scoring slightly difficult and they found the boundary with great difficulty. On 15, Taylor miscued the slog and was caught well by Umesh Yadav running back from mid on and taking a tumbling catch. Prior to the lunch break, Shami found good pace and bowled in the right areas. He accounted for Henry Nicholls with a ball that straightened outside off and Kohli took a good catch at slip. Latham notched up a gritty fifty but before the lunch break, Shami sent the well-set left-hander with a delivery that seamed in and it resulted in a misjudgment from Latham.
After the lunchbreak, Bumrah was in the thick of the action as he dismissed BJ Watling and Tim Southee in quick succession. Colin de Grandhomme and Kyle Jamieson tried to rebuild a stand but Jadeja, who had de Grandhomme's number throughout the tour, got rid of him with a flatter ball that straightened and the Kiwi all-rounder played down the wrong line. At 174/8, it seemed India would have a big lead but once again, their old habit of not able to run through the tail in overseas conditions hurt them. Jamieson and Neil Wagner frustrated the Indians with a 51-run stand.
Mohammed Shami was the pick of the bowlers with four wickets in the New Zealand innings. (Image credit: Getty Images)
Both batsmen tackled the pace and spin well, with Jamieson finding the boundary confidently. The confidence rubbed off on Wagner as well as he too preferred to attack. It took a brilliant catch from Jadeja at deep backward square leg to send back Wagner and when Jamieson missed out on a chance of reaching his maiden fifty, India had managed a seven-run lead. However, the 51-run stand had given New Zealand momentum.
Crucially, the overhead conditions were cloudy and the wind had picked up. This was the perfct opportunity for Boult and Southee to unleash havoc. Mayank Agarwal, who had impressed in Wellington, was undone by an inducker from Boult for 3. Prithvi Shaw, after hitting two boundaries, was undone by a sharp bouncer from Southee.
The onus, yet again, was on Cheteshwar Pujara and Virat Kohli. In the entire tour, Kohli has failed to get the big runs going. Southee, in particular, put him under immense pressure in Wellington and Christchurch and it allowed the other bowlers to get him. Both Pujara and Kohli stitched a solid stand but in the final hour, de Grandhomme struck a huge blow when he trapped Kohli LBW for 14 and the Indian skipper ended the tour without a single century for the first time since England 2014.
Ajinkya Rahane miscued a pull shot but he was given a life by de Grandhomme off Wagner as the fielder spilled the chance at deep square leg. Rahane, though, failed to capitalise and was bowled by Wagner for 9 as his poor tour ended as he totally misjudged a slow bouncer and dragged the ball back onto the stumps. With seven overs left in the day, India decided to send Umesh Yadav as the nightwatchman. The plan backfired thanks to Boult.
The left-arm pacer, who had dismissed Pujara round the wicket in Wellington, employed the same plan and it worked. Boult used the breeze and got the delivery to curve back in late and breach Pujara's defence for 24. Umesh was also undone by Boult and Rishabh Pant and Hanuma Vihari nervily got India to stumps. New Zealand's bowlers have outbowled India in the series while the lower order has outbatted India's lower order. It will take a big effort from Vihari, Jadeja and Pant to ensure India set New Zealand a target near 200 so that they can end the tour on a high.