The wicket of Kane Williamson at the stroke of lunch left the match beautifully balanced
Lunch New Zealand 197 for 2 (Latham 82*, Young 89, Umesh 1-30, Ashwin 1-57) trail India 345 (Iyer 105, Gill 52, Jadeja 50, Southee 5-69, Jamieson 3-91) by 148 runs
Kane Williamson’s wicket in the last over before lunch on the third morning ensured India shared the session with New Zealand despite the visiting batters looking solid for most part. Bowling with the second new ball, Umesh Yadav got one to nip back to ping Williamson on the back leg. The New Zealand captain decided to review the lbw decision but replays showed the ball would have hit the top of middle stump.
India started the day with their two most experienced bowlers, Ishant Sharma and R Ashwin, while KS Bharat substituted behind the stumps for Wriddhiman Saha, who had a stiff neck. Will Young and Latham didn’t find it easy to score on a slow and low pitch though Young skipped down the track against Ashwin a couple of times, hitting him over mid-on for four on one occasion. But otherwise both batters were forced to wait for the rare loose delivery.
Luck too seemed to be on New Zealand’s side. Ishant and Ashwin drew the outside edges of Young and Latham respectively, and while Young’s went for four through the gap between wide slip and gully, Latham’s fell short of Ajinkya Rahane at first slip.
With the breakthrough still elusive, Ashwin, who had started the day bowling around the wicket to both openers, switched to over the wicket. He broke the 151-run opening stand when Young edged a fuller-length delivery behind the stumps, with Bharat taking an excellent catch staying low. Young fell 11 short of what would have been his maiden Test hundred.
Williamson walked in with three men around the bat, and after a few watchful moments, struck two fours in one Ravindra Jadeja over. In the very next over, Ashwin could have had Latham too. He did everything right, tossed the ball up, got it to spin past the outside edge and hit the batter on the back leg. Umpire Nitin Menon though denied the vociferous appeal for lbw and India chose not to review. Replays showed Latham would have been on his way back had they done so.
A little later, Menon and Ashwin were involved in what seemed like a chat about Ashwin’s follow-through. When bowling from around the wicket, the offspinner was delivering from closer to the stumps and then moving across towards the left-hander’s leg side to avoid stepping onto the danger area. In the process, he seemed to be obstructing the umpire’s view and the non-striker. India’s coach Rahul Dravid too was seen making a visit to match referee Javagal Srinath’s room.
India took the new ball after 84 overs with five minutes to go for lunch. That proved to be just enough time to pick up the big wicket of Williamson.
Hemant Brar is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo