Black Caps on the ropes in first Test

Reuters, KANPUR, India

Mon, Sep 26, 2016 - Page 12

India set New Zealand an improbable 434-run victory target and then blew away the visitors’ top order in yesterday’s final session to close in on a resounding win in the first Test in Kanpur.

Resuming the fourth day on 159-1, India’s positive batting over two sessions yielded 218 runs before home captain Virat Kohli declared on 377-5 at Green Park Stadium.

Needing to pull off the biggest successful run chase in the history of Test cricket for an unlikely win, New Zealand wobbled early and were reeling at 93-4 at stumps, still trailing the massive target by 341.

Luke Ronchi (38) and Mitchell Santner (8) return today hoping to resist or at least delay India’s victory march.

Ravichandran Ashwin (3-68) proved once again why he is considered India’s premier spinner.

The off-spinner had Martin Guptill caught at silly point for a duck with the first ball of his second over and trapped Tom Latham (2) leg before wicket with the fifth.

Ashwin claimed his 200th Test wicket when he dismissed New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson (25) leg before wicket.

Ross Taylor (17) then ran himself out to compound the tourists’ misery.

Earlier, Williamson attacked with spin from both ends and his slow bowlers did not let him down.

Left-armer Santner trapped Murali Vijay leg before wicket for 76, ending the right-hander’s stand with Cheteshwar Pujara (78).

Off-spinner Mark Craig then dismissed India skipper Kohli when he attempted a slog-sweep that found Ish Sodhi at deep-midwicket.

Sodhi struck the next blow with a beauty of a delivery that spun from outside leg, took the outside edge of Pujara’s bat and nestled into Ross Taylor’s waiting hands at slip.

Rohit Sharma and Ravindra Jadeja then smashed unbeaten half-centuries to virtually bat New Zealand out of the contest.