Luke Ronchi and Mitchell Santner stitched together a 102-run partnership in the first session of Day 5 to ensure that New Zealand continued their resistance in pursuit of a world-record target of 434. While Ravindra Jadeja did manage to break the partnership by getting Ronchi to top-edge to Ravichandran Ashwin when he was on 80, by then, the New Zealand batsman had set down a template which his team would do well to follow in the next two Tests.
Batting in India, especially for overseas batsman, is tough. South Africa, last year, had decided to tackle it by shifting to extreme defence. It had not worked. Luke Ronchi demonstrated that to succeed on turning pitches, a batsman needed to be positive instead of only looking to survive.
In both his knocks in this Test, Ronchi showed aggressiveness in both attack and defence. There was no hesitation in his footwork and what stood out was his attempt to keep the scorecard ticking. He showed no fear against Ashwin and Jadeja, using his feet to target the straight boundaries and relying on sweet timing to get boundaries through cover.
It was eventually a rush of blood that contributed to his dismissal as he tried to play one shot too many, that too just after the drinks break, against Ravindra Jadeja and got a top-edge on an awful shot. This opened the floodgates as Mohammed Shami found a burst of reverse swing which accounted for the wickets of BJ Watling and Mark Craig. New Zealand went in to lunch at 205/7, still 229 runs short of their target.
But Luke Ronchi's 80 and Mitchell Santner's stubborn half-century will cause New Zealand to feel buoyed. They may have found a method to play Ashwin and Jadeja in Indian conditions. Barring a miracle, this match may have already been lost, but there are still two more Tests left.
New Zealand 262 and 205/7 (Luke Ronchi 80, Mitchell Santner 57 not out; Ravichandran Ashwin 3/111) trail India 318 and 377/5 declared, by 229 runs
Respond to this article with a post
Share your perspective on this article with a post on ScrollStack, and send it to your followers.