New Zealand 129 for 0 (Young 75*, Latham 50*) trail India 345 (Iyer 105, Gill 52, Jadeja 50, Southee 5-69, Jamieson 3-91) by 216 runs
Having been bowled out for 345 shortly after lunch, India probed from every conceivable angle for 57 overs, but their five bowlers couldn’t separate New Zealand’s opening pair. While the ball occasionally gripped and turned square, and more often kept low, the slowness of the surface allowed the batters to adjust and survive.
For all their frustrations over the last two sessions, India’s five-man attack bowled with control throughout – particularly in the post-tea session, in which they conceded just 57 runs in 31 overs – ensuring that the scoring rate was kept down, and New Zealand went to stumps still trailing by more than 200 runs.
Young and Latham, however, showed the rest of New Zealand’s line-up a template to survive. Knowing that the pitch wasn’t going to rush them, they let the ball come to them, meeting it right under their eye as far as possible, and didn’t go looking for scoring opportunities outside their comfort zones. Against the spinners, Latham waited for the line to shift outside off stump so he could sweep while minimising the risk of lbw. That shot was his primary scoring option aside from leg-side flicks and nudges.
Young, meanwhile, reached his fifty with a flurry of drives against the spinners before tea. But he was content to remain scoreless for long periods in the final session, when R Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja and Axar Patel began to find their rhythm and the ideal pace and seam positions for this surface.
As the day neared its close, all three spinners began to beat the bat more often. Ashwin thought he had Latham caught behind in the penultimate over of the day, and the umpire agreed, only for a review to indicate it was bat brushing pad rather than an edge. It was Latham’s third successful review; he had twice been adjudged lbw off the inside edge before tea, once against Umesh Yadav and once against Jadeja.
The first half of the day belonged to Southee. Having nursed a groin strain that took him off the field for parts of the first day’s play, he recovered sufficiently – or bowled through residual pain – to pick up four wickets in an unbroken spell of 11 overs on the second morning to complete his 13th five-wicket haul in Test cricket and his second in India.
Kyle Jamieson was New Zealand’s most impactful performer on day one, but he began day two completely out of rhythm, and Iyer, resuming on 75, hit him for five fours in his first three overs of the morning to hurry into the 90s. He brought up his hundred in Jamieson’s next over, with a sliced drive for two backward of point.
By then, though, Southee had already made a crucial incision. He began the day with four balls wide of Jadeja’s off stump, delivered from around the wicket, and the left-hander shouldered arms to all of them. He followed it with one that swung sharply into the stumps, and Jadeja, stuck in his crease, played down the wrong line and was struck on the back pad, with an umpire’s call verdict on height saving him after New Zealand reviewed the initial not-out decision.
Southee didn’t have to wait long to get his man, though. A similar delivery in his next over drew a similar, leaden-footed response, and this time the ball rattled into the stumps via the inside edge.
The wickets kept coming. A pair of full outswingers that weren’t quite full enough to drive prised Wriddhiman Saha and Iyer out; the first, delivered from wide of the crease, drew an off-drive down the wrong line, and the second, delivered from closer to the stumps and swerving away to scramble the batter’s shape and causing him to spoon the ball to cover point.
Then, in his eighth over of the morning, Southee alternated inswingers to the left-handed Axar with scrambled-seam balls that straightened off the pitch. Axar played and missed at the first scrambled-seam ball, and hung his bat out and edged the second to the keeper. India were 313 for 8.
By then, Ashwin was already on 20 off 22 balls, having come in and taken on Southee’s outswingers and hit him for three fours through the off side. Southee kept going for three more overs in the quest to finish the innings off, but Ashwin farmed the strike, refusing singles to keep Umesh away from the strike as much as possible.
Ashwin could have been dismissed for 16 when he stepped out to Ajaz Patel and missed an attempted lofted hit, with the ball scooting through low. The ball, however, narrowly missed off stump and bounced off Tom Blundell’s pad before he could react. It could have been the first wicket to fall to a spinner in this Test match, but as on day one – when he missed reviewing an lbw decision against Shubman Gill – the luck wasn’t quite with Ajaz.
It turned after lunch, though, as he spun one out of the footmarks and past the outside edge to bowl Ashwin, and got one to skid through with the arm to trap Ishant Sharma plumb in front.
Karthik Krishnaswamy is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo