At the end of a day that those in attendance at the Wankhede Stadium will never forget for a variety of reasons, New Zealand find themselves in a very difficult position despite Ajaz Patel’s historic ten-wicket haul in India’s first innings.
The left-arm spinner put on a brilliant show in the city of his birth to help restrict India to 325. He claimed every single Indian wicket to fall to join a very select club that only included Jim Laker and Anil Kumble before today.
But India stamped their authority on the match by dismissing New Zealand for just 62 – the lowest by any visiting side in men’s Test matches – and took complete control of the proceedings.
Kohli did have the opportunity to enforce the follow-on but India chose to bat again and ended the day on 69 for no loss.
The composed manner in which Mayank Agarwal and Wriddhiman Saha batted in the final session of Day 1 put India in a solid position and skipper Virat Kohli would have hoped that they could keep the partnership going.
But even before everyone would have settled into their seats in the stands, Ajaz Patel struck two big blows. First, he ended Saha’s knock and then bowled a beauty to knock back R Ashwin’s off-stump. So shocked was Ashwin by the dismissal that he seemed to want a referral, perhaps thinking he was given out caught behind.
Suddenly, from a position of relative comfort, India found themselves reduced to 224/6. But that is when Axar Patel walked in and put on a vital 67-run partnership with Agarwal.
The duo didn’t look to be very aggressive or even counterattack. Rather, they just wanted to stay out there in the middle for as long as possible.
It helped that with the exception of Ajaz Patel and Southee, none of the other Kiwi bowlers had any impact. It reflected in the very lop-sided numbers for bowlers. Lots of overs for Ajaz Patel and Southee and not enough from the others.
Latham didn’t trust them enough and perhaps, they didn’t trust themselves either. Somerville was expensive, Ravindra wasn’t bowled enough and Jamieson was strangely off-colour.
In the session: 28 overs, 64 runs, 2 wickets.
The ball was turning and bouncing in the first session but India had somehow avoided too much damage. However, in the second session, the wickets came tumbling down in the heap.
First to go was Agarwal but not before he got to 150. He played a very steady hand on a wicket that had something for the bowlers and it was the kind of innings that wins back the confidence of the team management. It was a tough knock and someone had to play it for India.
Patel got one to turn away sharply from Agarwal and he got the thinnest of edges to Blundell, who fumbled it once before taking it while disturbing the bails.
Jayant Yadav and Axar Patel put on a 25-run stand but by this point, the focus had shifted completely to Ajaz Patel. He had claimed all the Indian wickets to fall and given how well he was bowling, he had a very good chance of joining Jim Laker and Anil Kumble in the 10-wickets-in-an-innings club.
He then ran through the lower order in quick time to achieve the rarest of rare feats in the game. To take all 10 wickets is the stuff of dreams and for the left-arm spinner, who was born in Mumbai, it came in the sweetest of ways. His final bowling figures read 47.5-12-119-10. It was a long hard slog but he kept at it and earned just reward.
But despite Ajaz Patel’s brilliance, India got to 325 and on this wicket, it was more than a competitive total.
To make matters worse for NZ, India’s bowlers were in inspired form. Mohammad Siraj started off by taking the first three wickets to fall. Will Young edged one to the slips, Tom Latham fell to a short ball and Ross Taylor’s off-stump was knocked back by a sensational ball that moved just enough to beat the bat.
The spinners got together to take another three wickets as NZ ended the session on 38/6.
India’s performance once again showed how things could have been different if NZ’s bowlers could have come to the party as a unit. The Indian bowlers just knew how to get more out of the wicket and which areas to exploit.
In the session: 28.3 overs, 78 runs, 10 wickets
The spin in Kanpur was slow and it gave the batters a chance to adjust even if they got the initial response wrong. But in Mumbai, there was bounce and turn and surviving meant you needed to have proper skill or a lot of luck. Unfortunately, the Kiwis had neither.
They were bowled out for 62 runs, their lowest total against India. They are missing some of their top players but the visitors just weren’t proactive enough against a classy attack. The footwork was poor and it exposed the batters of the world’s no 1 side.
Once Kohli opted against the follow on, it was an opportunity for the middle order to find some runs and form.
Shubman Gill suffered a blow to his right elbow while fielding in the first innings and did not take the field as a precautionary measure. Cheteshwar Pujara was pushed up the order to open the innings and he put on an unbroken stand of 69 with Agarwal as India ended the day 332 runs ahead. Agarwal seemed to have more issues with his back but carried on undeterred for another solid start while Pujara looked shaky, was lucky that NZ didn’t review a LBW call but will be glad to have made it back to the dressing room unbeaten.
In the session: 32.3 overs, 93 runs, 4 wickets
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