Black caps face uphill battle
Ashwin claims 200th scalp as India take control of first Test
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.