Scorecard | Action in images
BANGALORE: R. Ashwin's third five-wicket haul of the series allowed India to nose ahead of New Zealand in the second Test at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium here, on Sunday.
It appeared to be a game of cat and mouse as neither team appeared too keen on seizing the moment - and making it submit - before Ashwin's burst of wickets late in the day pulled the Kiwis down to 232-9 in their second innings - a lead of 244, and, rain willing, two days of cricket remaining. For the visitors, most of their top-order batsmen got starts but were unable to build on them.
India had earlier resumed on 283-5 and capitulated to Tim Southee (seven for 64) to concede a first innings lead of 12. But they kept chipping away at the Kiwis, and would be satisfied with how things eventually panned out.
An Indian win, however, may not be easily gained, considering how their lower order surrendered to seam bowling in Sunday's first session. Already, the hosts will have to complete the fifth-highest successful chase ever in India if they are to win the game.
Southee shines, Kohli scores ton
In the first session of play, Southee claimed four wickets as the bottom half of the line up was shot out for 70 runs. Southee, who had replaced the ageing Chris Martin, took match figures of seven for 64 (including four for 29 on Sunday), going past 50 Test wickets. His figures, the best by a New Zealand fast bowler in India, gave his team a 12-run first innings lead, after Virat Kohli (103) had completed his second Test century up ahead.
Nine wickets down and 45 adrift, India's deficit would have been more, but for a last-wicket 33-run rally staged by Ashwin and Umesh Yadav. But Kohli's first home century apart, the first session was all about Southee's fine spell with the new ball, which was taken two overs into the morning and greeted by Dhoni with a four to reach his fifty. Kohli brought up his landmark off 187 balls in the same over, before Southee turned it all around.
The 23-year-old swung out four wickets in three consecutive overs, including those of Kohli and Dhoni (62) - his fifth wicket - who were both out leg-before. The Delhi batsman misjudged the movement, shouldered arms and was struck on the pad; the Indian captain tried met a similar fate trying to turn the ball to the on-side.
Southee then had Zaheer and Ojha caught behind in the same over, allowing Ashwin and Yadav to scramble 33 runs for the tenth wicket. Left-arm pacer Trent Boult finally arrested India on 353 - a deficit of 12 - when Yadav played on to a slanting delivery. Ashwin's unbeaten 32 at the No.8 spot was another indication of his development as a batsman.
New Zealand build, India chip away
After Southee won them a morale-boosting lead, New Zealand opened their second essay watchfully against Zaheer Khan and Yadav. Brendon McCullum was involved in most of the action, punching a boundary through cover after surviving a close leg-before appeal against Zaheer, and New Zealand took lunch on 29 , both the openers around.
Yadav took out both immediately after resumption.He got rid of Guptill on the third ball after lunch when the batsman inside-edged a slanting fulltoss onto the stumps. On the first ball of his next over, Yadav drew out McCullum with a good-length delivery, that was edged to Dhoni behind the wicket.This brought together skipper and first innings centurion Ross Taylor, who was more circumspect this time. He added 38 with Kane Williamson (13) before Ashwin struck in his first over of the day. The off-spinner tossed it up to Williamson, who thrust forward and nicked to Sehwag at slip.
New Zealand led by 81 runs then, and another miniature alliance of 42 - between Taylor and an aggressive Daniel Flynn - swelled the advantage to 123.
Then it was Ojha's turn to torment. The left-arm spinner nailed Taylor (35) on the sweep, the Kiwi captain going across, missing and leaving with the score on 111-4. Southpaw Flynn, who had spanked five boundaries in his first 24 runs, quietened down after that, and NZ entered tea 135 ahead, six wickets in hand, and a testing final session in store.
Ashwin snares five for 69
India opened the final session through Zaheer and Ashwin, two slips and two shortlegs in place for the spinner, as Flynn and Franklin sought to build. At least three NZ batsmen had wasted decent starts, and Flynn (31) became the fourth when he was late on the steer against the Chennai lad, giving Sehwag at slip his sixth catch of the series.
Late in the day, Umesh Yadav nailed Kruger van Wyk on the helmet as the Kiwi ducked into a fast bouncer. van Wyk was shaken, as the close-in ring supressed their grins and asked after his him. On the next ball, van Wyk was struck another blow, this time on the forearm, warranting a break in play for the application of ice to the affected part.
The wicketkeeper-batsman recovered, and spanked Ojha for four to stretch the lead to 200, but became Ashwin's third victim when he was trapped in front for 31. A brainfreeze handed the off-spinner his fourth when Franklin, who had made a patient 41, charge madly down the and was stumped. Ashwin completed his third five-wicket haul of the series when he bowled Southee.
Ojha then removed Doug Bracewell, rapped in front, and New Zealand ended on 232-9, their last pair seeing out the concluding couple of overs.