New Zealand pacers made the ball talk on an ominous-looking relaid Eden Gardens surface but skipper Virat Kohli‘s fighting 45 ensured that India took a sizeable 222-run lead at tea on day three of their second cricket Test on Sunday.
Matt Henry (3/34) and Trent Boult (2/19) reduced India to 43/4 by taking four wickets in 43 balls in the post-lunch session, but Kohli and Rohit Sharma seized the momentum in the most entertaining period of the day.
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At tea, Sharma was unbeaten on 20 in his happy-hunting ground while giving him support was local lad Wriddhiman Saha on four with India placed at 110/6 after 31 overs.
Going through a rare lean patch, Kohli returned among runs but failed to make it big after being trapped for 45 to a perilously low ball from Boult.
Kohli hit seven delightful boundaries and shared 48 runs with Sharma and their partnership ensured that India’s lead go past 200.
There was about 20,000-odd Eden turnout, the best in the ongoing Test, and they did not mind the extreme heat and humidity and remained glued to their seats as Kohli worked the ball around.
Kohli had a close shave when he was yet to open his account. The Indian skipper was hit on his front pad but replay showed the ball was going down the leg and fortunately for Kohli the umpire ruled in the batsman’s favour.
But from then on he did not have any trouble as he was seen playing forward, even as the ball had the odd bounce and was coming slow on a few occasions.
In the fourth ball after lunch, Henry gave the breakthrough by producing a beautiful outswinger as Vijay once again became the Kiwi youngster’s victim.
Cheteshwar Pujara (4), Shikhar Dhawan (17), who was hit on his bottom hand thump twice, got out LBW while Ajinka Rahane (1) mistimed one while trying to pull Henry.
Earlier, in reply to India’s 316 in the first innings, New Zealand was bundled out for 204 in 53 overs.
Playing his first Test after more than three years, No.9 Jeetan Patel, the off-spinner who was flown in from England to replace an injured Mark Craig, was the top scorer for New Zealand with his 47 in a 60-run partnership with BJ Watling (25).
Patel’s career best score took New Zealand past the 200-mark but he could not make further inroads with the ball Ravichandran Ashwin gave the first breakthrough of the day in his first over.
Resuming at 163/7 with a 15-minute early start, New Zealand survived the opening hour’s play, which included a brief 10-minute rain halt.