Riding on the back of a serene start by the New Zealand openers Tom Latham and Will Young, New Zealand posted 129 runs without the openers being separated on day two. But, the Indian bowlers on a fresh day kept probing and were rewarded with the wicket of Young at the brink of Drinks break in the first session. They followed it up with the priced scalp of Kane Williamson at the stroke of lunch. However, Latham kept going at one end. Despite it, New Zealand started to crumble as Axar Patel once again ran through the middle order of New Zealand. Just when Latham was nearing his 12th ton, a ball that pitched out of the rough hit his glove and rolled back to KS Bharat, the substitute keeper for Wriddhiman Saha. As Latham fell short by five runs off what would have been a stupendous century, New Zealand were wrapped off for 296, handing a lead of 49 for India. Axar bagged his fifth five-wicket haul in his fourth match.
India were jolted early as Kyle Jamieson went past the inside edge of Shubman Gill with his first ball. Cheteshwar Pujara in company of Mayank Agarwal steadied the ship and saw through what has been India’s day. Once again, the bad light played its part and the third day came to an end. Here are a few notable stats from day three of the first Test:
A prolonged opening partnership
The opening duo of New Zealand, Latham and Young did an exceptional job of batting through the whole of second day. It is just not the runs they got, it is the number of overs they played that gave New Zealand the advantage. Including the 11.1 overs today, the opening pair lasted for 66.1 overs. Since the start of this century, only one visiting opening pair had lasted more overs in India and that was also between two New Zealand batsmen. Mark Richardson and Lou Vincent had played 79.5 overs to forge a 231-run partnership in 2003.
A partnership to cherish in Asian conditions
For any non-Asian country, to excel in foreign conditions like Asia, especially in the batting front is a difficult feat. But, the pair of Latham and Young showed it was not impossible. After posting a 100-run opening stand on day two, the openers put on another 22 runs before Young was dismissed. For New Zealand, this was only their second 150+ opening stand in Asian conditions in Tests. Their best also came against India, when Richardson and Vincent posted a mammoth 231-run partnership in Mohali in 2003. Out of the nine century opening partnerships for New Zealand in Asia, seven of them have come against India. Out of the seven in India, Latham is the only opener to be involved in two century partnerships.
Axar on cloud-nine
It just keeps getting better and better for Axar. After a successful home series against England where he bagged 27 wickets in just three matches earlier this year, Axar has started off with another five-wicket haul in this series. In the four matches he has played, the left-arm spinner has bagged a five-wicket haul in each of his four matches. In total, he has bagged five 5-wicket hauls in a span of just four matches. This is the joint second most for a bowler in his first four matches. Charlie Turner had six in his first four. Given Axar will be bowling in the fourth innings, there is an almighty chance of him leveling Turner.
Jamieson’s quick rise
If Axar is running cloud-nine for India, so is Jamieson for New Zealand. The fast bowler has risen to the ranks among New Zealand quicks in no-time. Playing most of his matches in conditions suitable for his bowling, Jamieson in his first appearance in Asian conditions has been exceptional. Heading into this match, he was four short of 50 Test wickets. By virtue of three wickets in the first innings and the solitary wicket of Gill on day three, Jamison bagged his 50th Test wicket in just nine matches. Hence, he became the fastest New Zealander to achieve this landmark. Shane Bond had reached the milestone in 12 matches.
The luck back-fires Tom Latham
Throughout his innings of 95, Latham drove over a lot of luck. Three times he was judged out by on field umpires but reversed by the TV umpire. There was one occasion where the umpire turned down an LBW appeal from Ravi Ashwin that India didn’t review but the hawk-eye suggested three reds on it. However, luck ran-out in the nervous nineties. An awkward bounce off the rough hit his glove and rolled back to Bharat to find him short of his crease and also five runs short of a century. In the process, he became the first New Zealand opener to be dismissed in the nineties against India in Test. Overall, he was the 11th New Zealand opener to suffer this fate in Tests.