After spinners, Vijay-Pujara put India on top in Kanpur Test


Tom Latham and Kane Williamson struck half-centuries to take New Zealand to a comfortable position before heavy rain forced match officials to call off the final session's play on the second day of the first cricket Test against India here on Friday. Looking to continue with his policy of trying to negotiate spin off the back foot, the NZ captain was caught in tangle by a ripper from Ashwin that came in sharply from way outside the off-stump.

The other instance of this occurring was in 2006 when Rahul Dravid and Wasim Jaffer put on 129 and 167 for the second wicket against England at Nagpur.

Jadeja finished with yet another five-for, while Ashwin scalped four wickets as both the spinners together accounted for nine wickets to give the hosts a 56 run lead in the first innings.

The Indians too had faltered in their first innings from being 154 for one to be 318 all out. By the time India reached the close on 159 for one the lead was up to 215 and the chances of New Zealand getting anything out of this game were slim and getting slimmer.

Virat Kohli with teammates make successful appeal against New Zealand's Ross Tyalor (R) during the 3rd Day play in Kanpur on Saturday.

Just as we saw in India's first innings, New Zealand got past 150 and then lost wickets in a clump, and it was Ashwin and Jadeja that did the damage.

Two overs later, Ashwin castled Williamson (75), leaving New Zealand in a precarious condition at 170 for four. But none of the Indian batsmen looked as uncomfortable as New Zealand batsmen did.

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An encore from Murali Vijay and Cheteswar Pujara have allowed the team to thrive on their 107-run unbeaten partnership. On a cracked, rough third-day wicket, they broke the formidable second wicket stand before running over the rest of the Kiwis.

The first to go was Latham, who was struck in front by an Ashwin delivery that went in with the arm.

Ravichandran Ashwin (0-44) tested the batsmen with some sharp turn and bounce as he got purchase off the pitch towards the middle session's end.

The New Zealanders had gone to lunch at 238 for fi ve but found themselves in a tangle after the interval as the spin duo got into the act.

Umesh Yadav accounted for the remaining wicket. But replays showed Lokesh Rahul fumbled and the ball touched his helmet grill, thus rendering the ball not in play. But both spinners were also consistently asking questions - of the New Zealand batsmen and therefore the umpires, and that could have played a role in those decisions. After lunch, even more damagingly, they lost their last five in the space of 29 balls, for the addition of only seven runs. After five overs of pace, on came Ashwin and Jadeja to put the visitors' essay in disarray.

It will need an Indian collapse that outdoes all the mini-ones seen so far in this match, and an exceptional New Zealand batting performance in the fourth innings on a pitch where the ball has begun to hiss and spit, for the visitor to still dream of pulling ahead in the three-Test series.