Indore: A splendid six-wicket effort from premier strike bowler Ravichandran Ashwin saw India maintain their stranglehold on New Zealand and remain firmly on course for a 3-0 series whitewash at the end of third day’s play in the final Test match in Indore.
Riding on Ashwin’s brilliant figures of 6/81, India bowled out New Zealand for 299 taking a healthy first-innings lead of 258 runs. Virat Kohli, however, did not enforce the follow-on and India were 18 for no loss at stumps increasing their overall lead to 276 runs.
Veteran opener Gautam Gambhir was retired hurt on six after sustaining a shoulder injury going for a second run. At stumps, Cheteshwar Pujara (1) and M. Vijay (11) were at the crease for the home team.
The day belonged to Ashwin, who used the bowlers’ rough brilliantly by operating from the pavilion end to get his 20th five-wicket haul in his 39th Test. The off-spinner, who grabbed 10 wickets in the series opener at Kanpur and four in the second match at Kolkata, also ran out two batsmen off his own bowling. His spin partner Ravindra Jadeja accounted for the other two wickets in the visitors’ innings.
With two days left in the game, India, who won the first two Tests by huge margins, looked well-poised to score another victory for a clean sweep of the series. After the run-glut from captain Virat Kohli (211) and Ajinkya Rahane (188) on the first two days, it was the spin magic from Ashwin that enthralled the big crowd after the Kiwis had put on the first century stand of the series from either side for the first wicket.
Ashwin came up with a sensational post-lunch spell to grab four top order wickets, including three in the space of 13 balls, after New Zealand openers Martin Guptill (72) and Tom Latham (53) had made a great start by putting on 118 runs. Ashwin sent back Latham, to break the opening partnership before lunch, and then dismissed captain and No.3 Kane Williamson (8) before adding the scalps of Ross Taylor (0) and Luke Ronchi (0) to trigger a top-order collapse from which New Zealand could not recover.
He then trapped the stubborn James Neesham on the sweep shot in front of the stumps for 71 and then brought the innings to an end by having last man Trent Boult caught in the deep. He was also responsible for running out Guptill and Jeetan Patel by deflecting the ball on to the non-striker’s end stumps, as the batsmen were caught out of the crease.
Left-arm spinner Jadeja, who claimed 2 for 80 by breaking two half-century partnerships down the order, gave Ashwin good support as the Kiwis folded up forty minutes before the scheduled close. PTI