Kolkata: Pacer Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s devastating five-wicket haul after a late batting blitzkrieg put India firmly in command as they reduced a hapless New Zealand to 128 for 7 on the rain-hit second day of the second cricket Test in Kolkata on Saturday.
The Indians, resuming at 239/7, produced a purposeful batting performance in the morning session with Wriddhiman Saha (54 not out) scoring his third Test half-century to help the team reach 316 all out in 104.5 overs.
In reply, the Kiwis were tottering at 128/7, still 188 runs behind and facing the prospect of another big defeat after the 197-run drubbing in the opening Test in Kanpur.
The wrecker-in chief was Bhuvneshwar Kumar with a sensational 5-33, his fourth five-wicket haul in Tests, from 10 overs that broke the back of New Zealand’s batting. The Kiwis faced 34 overs in all on Saturday after a bulk of the final session was held up due to wet ground conditions and stumps were drawn early because of bad light.
It was a turnaround of sorts for India, who had staggered to 239/7 on Friday on a pitch that offered uneven bounce.
But the lower order came up with a confident performance to push India over the 300-run mark, helped to a large extent by Saha’s gritty knock which came off 85 balls and was laced with seven fours and two hits over the boundary line.
With a good total on the board, the Indian bowlers were incisive against their rivals in the post-lunch session, reducing them to 85 for 4.
However, weather played spoilsport close to tea and an early break was taken which eventually lasted two and a half hours. Passing showers of less than 10 minutes were enough to leave the ground unplayable for more than two hours.
However, once play got underway, Kumar lit up the gloomy atmosphere with his feisty spell. Included in place of Umesh Yadav, Kumar was at his furious best bowling a tidy line and length as he removed stand-in skipper Ross Taylor (36) in his first over after play was resumed following a two and half hours delay.
Bowling a beautiful line, Kumar dismissed Taylor after he jabbed the ball at first slip and took two wickets in two balls by removing Mitchell Santner (11) and Matt Henry (0) off successive balls.
Mohammed Shami (1/46) bowled with pace and bounce to tighten the noose at the other end.