Black caps face up­hill bat­tle

Ash­win claims 200th scalp as In­dia take con­trol of first Test

7 Days in Dubai - - SPORT -

Ravichan­dran Ash­win once again starred with the ball for In­dia to leave New Zealand fac­ing an up­hill task to save the first Test.

Hav­ing de­clared on 377-6 in their sec­ond in­nings to set the Black Caps an im­prob­a­ble target of 434, Ash­win then took 3-68 to re­duce the vis­i­tors to 83-4 at the close of play on the fourth day in Kan­pur.

The spin­ner also claimed his 200th Test wicket, be­com­ing the sec­ond­fastest to reach the mark, hav­ing played just 37 Test matches.

Ash­win has reached the land­mark ahead of Den­nis Lillee (38), Waqar You­nis (38) and Dale Steyn (39), and was only one match short of Aus­tralia’s Clar­rie Grim­mett.

In reach­ing the 200-wicket mark Ash­win has claimed 18 five­fors and four 10-wicket match hauls. He has also com­piled four Test hun­dreds as well.

“Ever since com­ing back from Aus­tralia [in 2014-15], I have been en­joy­ing my last 100 wick­ets,” said Ash­win.

“I was plan­ning my wick­ets bet­ter. The chal­lenge from the op­po­si­tion is al­ways good.

“It’s a com­bi­na­tion of play­ing good bats­men, con­di­tions and match sit­u­a­tions that makes this sat­is­fy­ing. “I think its too early to talk about my achieve­ments I have a long way to go. “It’s very im­por­tant to take it one day at a time as Test cricket can set you back if you take it for granted.” For New Zealand the prob­lems be­gan af­ter tea when Martin Gup­till was dis­missed for a duck, with Ash­win then claim­ing his sec­ond wicket in five balls when trap­ping Tom Latham lbw for just two. When Kane Williamson de­parted for 25 and Ross Tay­lor fell for 17, it seemed New Zealand were in danger of los­ing within four days.

But Luke Ronchi (38) and Mitchell Sant­ner (8) stemmed the tide, bat­ting out 15.3 overs un­til the close of play.

How­ever, it will take some­thing spe­cial for the vis­i­tors to over­come the high­est-ever suc­cess­ful run chase of 418-7 by the West Indies against Aus­tralia in 2003.

“We know if we get a cou­ple of wick­ets we can run through the side,” said bats­man Chetesh­war Pu­jara. “We are very con­fi­dent in these con­di­tions.”

In­dia are des­per­ate to win the se­ries as they look to claim the No. 1 Test rank­ing from Pak­istan.

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