After a swashbuckling cameo with the bat, New Zealand quick Trent Boult bagged three wickets to have India struggling for survival at stumps on day three of the first Test in Wellington on Sunday.
India, faced with a 183 run first-innings deficit, were 144/4 at the close, still 39 in arrears after rollicking innings by Boult and Kyle Jamieson pushed New Zealand to 348.
Ajinkya Rahane was unbeaten on 25 with Hanuma Vihari on 15.
Boult, back in Test cricket after breaking a hand during the Boxing Day Test in a disastrous series for New Zealand in Australia, took a back seat in India’s first innings when Jamieson and Tim Southee took four wickets apiece to role the tourists for 165.
But he came to the fore on day three with figures of 3/27 as India, the world’s top-ranked side looked lost in New Zealand conditions.
The tourists needed patience and determination as they worked to write off the deficit in the 65 overs they faced before stumps.
After Prithvi Shaw fell early, caught by a diving Tom Latham at backward square leg to give Boult his first wicket, Mayank Agarwal and Cheteshwar Pujara cautiously lifted the score to 78/1.
But Pujara, who received loud applause when he ended a 28-ball drought with a two off Boult, was bowled by the New Zealand quick on the last ball before tea.
Agarwal went for 58 soon after the resumption and India were reduced to 96/3.
It put pressure on Virat Kohli to perform after a string of low scores in New Zealand but on 19 his patience deserted him and a wild swing at a short Boult delivery was nicked to the keeper and India were 113/4.
India had their opportunities to clip New Zealand’s wings.
Earlier, Jamieson and Boult mounted a rearguard assault which gave New Zealand a comfortable first innings lead.
Jamieson, only selected for his maiden Test while Neil Wagner is on paternity leave, has been the headline performer for New Zealand.
He followed up taking 4/39 with an entertaining 44 off 45 deliveries with the bat when the New Zealand innings was teetering.
After picking up four wickets in India’s first innings, Jamieson continued his dream debut with the bat, smashing a quickfire 44 as New Zealand finished their outing with a commanding 183-run lead.
Ishant Sharma picked up five wickets but the New Zealand lower order did plenty of damage to India’s hopes of turning this Test around.
New Zealand were 348 all out at lunch on day three in their first innings after Jamieson and Colin de Grandhomme pulled the hosts out of a mini collapse with an entertaining 71-run stand for the eighth wicket.
The innings was further extended by Ajaz Patel and Boult who added 38 for the final wicket before Ishant Sharma removed Boult to finish with 5/68.
Jamieson’s run-a-ball knock was a record for a New Zealand number nine on debut eclipsing the 43 by Graham Vivian, also against India, 55 years ago. He also equalled Michael Clarke’s record of hitting most sixes in the first Test innings of a career.
With the hosts leading by 51 overnight, India snapped up two wickets in the first three overs of the day before the lower-order onslaught.
When play resumed on time despite heavy overnight rain, New Zealand lost BJ Watling first ball with Tim Southee following soon after to be 225/7 before the last three wickets added 123 runs.
Jamieson showed he can also be a batting force.
He made his mark quickly with a huge six off Mohammed Shami over the midwicket boundary and followed with another maximum when he top-edged Shami over the wicketkeeper’s head.
He did offer Shami a caught and bowled chance on 15 but the Indian quick was unable to stretch far enough and the ball rolled off his fingertips.
When India put spinner Ashwin Ravichandran (3/99) into the attack after just four overs with the second new ball, Jamieson smacked him twice over the boundary ropes before his attempt at another six later fell short and he was caught by Hanuma Vihari.
De Grandhomme survived two reviews on 7 and he showed his worth as an allrounder. He was given out leg before wicket but replays showed the ball missing leg stump. Five balls later India appealed for caught behind but the review showed it was off pad.
De Grandhomme made 43 before Ashwin had him glove to keeper Rishabh Pant.
Virat Kohli’s world No 1 side will now have to bat out of their skins to stay alive in the Test after the familiar woes of letting the tail wag came back to haunt them.
(With AFP inputs)