Ashwin six-for puts India in firm control in third NZ Test
WILY off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin backed himself yesterday to outfox any batsman in the world after his six wickets in the third and final Test against New Zealand put India in pole position to complete a whitewash.
Ashwin, who is the leading wickettaker in the series with 20 dismissals, was again the standout performer as the hosts bowled out the tourists for 299 and secured a 258-run lead on day three of the match.
India, who did not enforce the follow-on, were 18 for no loss in their second innings at stumps, with Murali Vijay (11) and Cheteshwar Pujara (1) stretching the lead to 276.
Opener Gautam Gambhir retired hurt on six after aggravating a shoulder injury, which he first suffered while fielding, as he dived into his crease to avoid a run-out.
Earlier Ashwin ensured that India continued their domination of the series at their newest Test venue, Indore’s Holkar Stadium, after recording his 20th five-wicket haul to destroy the New Zealand batting.
“It is pretty special [five-for]. It is very important for me to get into a good rhythm ... Once I get into that good rhythm I think I can beat any batsman in the world: That’s where I stand right now,” he told reporters.
Opener Martin Guptill, who struck form with a gritty 72, and James Neesham (71) put up the main resistance against an inspired Indian attack.
The Black Caps, who began the day on 28 without loss, had made a strong start in response to India’s commanding first innings score of 557 for five declared, but then lost five wickets for just 30 runs.
After Tom Latham fell just before lunch for 53, caught and bowled by Ashwin, India turned the screws on the visitors by taking a further five wickets in the afternoon session.
Ashwin’s other victims included New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson, who was bowled for eight after dragging a turning delivery onto his stumps.
It was the third time in a row that the Black Caps’ star batsman had been dismissed by Ashwin.
Indian skipper Virat Kohli had played a vital role on October 9 with a career-best 211, his second doublecentury in Tests.
Kohli’s record 365-run fourthwicket stand with Ajinkya Rahane (188) was the highlight of India’s first innings after the hosts elected to bat first.
India, who took an unassailable 2-0 lead in Kolkata, are looking to complete their second successive home series whitewash against New Zealand.