India’s batting issue yet again overshadowed the brilliant show of bowling skills by Mohammed Shami and Jasprit Bumrah as New Zealand regained complete control on day two of the in the second Test in Christchurch on Sunday (March 1).
Top-order batsmen of the visiting squad frittered away a golden chance with another shoddy batting show along with a slender first-innings lead gifted to the Men In Blue by Shami and Bumrah’s hostile fast-bowling spell.
Shami (4/81 in 23.1 overs) and Bumrah (3/62 in 22 overs) were brilliant in their execution, dismissing New Zealand for 235 in 73.1 overs as they showed why they are one of deadliest fast bowling pair in Test match cricket.
However, India’s top-order failed miserably once again as New Zealand bounced back, reducing India to 90 for six at stumps on day two as a three-day finish is on the cards.
India is now effectively 97 runs ahead with only four wickets in hand and it will take a miraculous effort to avert another series whitewash after the ODIs.
Trent Boult (3/12 in 9 overs) got Mayank Agarwal (3) and Cheteshwar Pujara (24) with conventional inswingers that tail’s into right-handers.
Prithvi Shaw (14) was out in familiar fashion, fending a short ball from Tim Southee, while skipper Virat Kohli’s (14) indecisive footwork brought his downfall once again.
Vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane, who was hit on the helmet, paid the price for an ugly shot, while Umesh Yadav expectedly didn’t survive a rampaging Boult after he was inexplicably sent in as nightwatchman when nearly half an hour was left.
A target of 250 in the fourth innings could well be a challenge for the Black Caps as there is still something in the track for the speed merchants despite batsmen getting a value for their shots.
India would have ideally hoped that skipper Kohli would end his dreadful tour of New Zealand with one big knock but it was not to be as Colin de Grandhomme trapped the Indian captain leg before with an off-cutter.
The first two sessions belonged to Shami and Bumrah, who were nothing short of brilliant with their precision length, sideways movement and an occasional heavy ball that was slipped in between.
Ravindra Jadeja (2/22 in 10 overs) did exactly what was required. He also took a stunning acrobatic one-hander in the deep to dismiss Neil Wagner (21), which will be remembered for years to come.
Once Umesh Yadav (1/46 in 18 overs) provided the breakthrough removing Tom Blundell (30), it was Bumrah and Shami, who were relentless bowling that probing off-stump line which never let any of their batsmen settle.
Bumrah must have beaten the bat at least on 15 occasions, including that of oppositions only half-centurion Tom Latham (52 off 122 balls), who never looked settled during his stay.
The two deliveries that stood out during the second day’s play was one by Bumrah that got rid of Kane Williamson (3) and other by Shami, who sent back Latham.
Bumrah bowled one with the angle that came back a shade and it seemed like Williamson was in two minds whether to withdraw the bat or play defensively. The half-hearted prod only resulted in a nick that went into Rishabh Pant’s gloves.
In case of Latham, Shami beautifully set him up during his second spell of the morning. There were a few away going deliveries which he got thick outside edges.
Shami then bowled on the fourth stump and Latham shouldered arms to leave the ball and it turned out to be an error of judgement with the ball cutting back enough to peg the off-stump back.
Having got five wickets in the first session, India were back in the game and Bumrah got a couple within first few minutes after lunch as BJ Watling (0) and Tim Southee (0) were dismissed in a space of three deliveries.
Once de Grandhomme (26), who was playing a useful hand, was cleaned up by Jadeja, India did endure a frustrating one hour period in which Kyle Jamieson (49) and Wagner added 51 runs for the ninth wicket, something that would now come back to haunt the Indians.
(With inputs from agencies)