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Rohit steers India to big lead

Rohit Sharma (L) of India celebrates his half century during day 3 of the 2nd Test match against New Zealand at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata, on Sunday.
 KOLKATA, Oct 2: India emerged stronger in the battle of attrition against a gritty New Zealand to take complete control of the second cricket Test by grabbing a 339-run lead, riding on Rohit Sharma’s fluent 82-run knock on day three of the match here.

 The Indians were pushed hard in the first two sessions but roared back in the final session to be 227/8 at stumps, which was again drawn early at 63.2 overs owing to bad light.

Wriddhiman Saha (39) and Bhuvneshwar Kumar (8) were at the crease when play ended for the day.

Despite the patchy batting performance, the hosts look set to go 2-0 up in the three-match series, a result that would also propel them to the top of the ICC Test rankings.

Earlier, resuming at yesterday’s 128/7, the Black Caps’ first innings wrapped up at 204 helped primarily by comeback-man Jeetan Patel’s run-a-ball 47, which was laced with nine hits to the fence.

The struggle on the difficult-to-negotiate Eden Gardens track, however, was not exclusive to the New Zealanders and the hosts too found the going tough.

The in-form duo of pacer Matt Henry (3/44) and Mitchell Santner (3/51) continued to deliver for New Zealand, especially in the post-lunch session before Virat Kohli’s men gathered themselves in the final session.

Reduced to 91/5, the home team was rescued by Rohit and Saha, who had scored an unbeaten half-century in the first innings as well. The two put on 103 run off 179 deliveries to steer India out of trouble.

Eden Gardens thus once again proved to be Rohit’s happy-hunting ground where he has a debut Test century, an ODI world record of 264 runs, two IPL titles for Mumbai Indians, beside a Ranji Trophy double.

Among the top half, Kohli, who has been struggling for some time, produced a fine 65-ball 45, including 7 fours, to announce his return to form before being trapped LBW by Boult off a delivery that kept low because of the unpredictable bounce.

Rohit took it forward from there and hit nine fours and two sixes en route to his second fifty in two Tests, and sixth overall. The 29-year-old’s fluent knock was brought to an end by Santner who induced a faint edge from his bat, caught by Luke Ronchi.

Rohit made his intentions clear by hitting Jeetan Patel for a six over midwicket early in his innings, and when Trent Boult (2/28) was making the ball talk bowling at shoulder height, the Indian counter-attacked with a pull over square leg boundary.

There was a minor blip for Rohit when Patel almost castled the Indian but the delivery missed the off-stump and the Eden did not deny him a half-century.

Earlier, in reply to India’s 316 in the first innings, New Zealand were bundled out for 204 in 53 overs in the first one and half hour’s play.

Playing his first Test after more than three years, No.9 Patel, who was flown in from England to replace an injured Mark Craig, was the top-scorer for New Zealand with his 47 in a 60-run partnership with BJ Watling (25).

Patel’s career-best score took New Zealand past the 200-mark. Senior off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin gave India the first breakthrough of the day in his first over.

New Zealand, however, did well to survive the opening hour’s play which included a brief 10-minute rain halt.

Patel struck three boundaries in one Ravindra Jadeja over but survived an LBW decision after the India spinner was found to have overstepped. – PTI


India 1st innings: 316

New Zealand 1st innings (Overnight 128/7 in 34.0 overs): MJ Guptill b Kumar 13, TWM Latham lbw b Mohammed Shami 1, HM Nicholls b Kumar 1, LRPL Taylor c Vijay b Kumar 36, L Ronchi lbw b Jadeja 35, MJ Santner lbw b Kumar 11, BJ Watling lbw b Mohammed Shami 25, MJ Henry b Kumar 0, JS Patel c Mohammed Shami b Ashwin 47, N Wagner lbw b Mohammed Shami 10, TA Boult not out 6. Extras: (B-9, LB-4, W-5, NB-1) 19. Total: (all out in 53 overs) 204. Fall of wickets: 1-10, 2-18, 3-23, 4-85, 5-104, 6-122, 7-122, 8-182, 9-187, 10-204. Bowling: B Kumar 15-2-48-5, Mohammed Shami 18-1-70-3, RA Jadeja 12-4-40-1, R Ashwin 8-3-33-1.

India 2nd innings: Vijay c Guptill b Henry 7, Dhawan lbw b Boult 17, Pujara lbw b Henry 4, Kohli lbw b Boult 45, Rahane c Boult b Henry 1, Rohit c Ronchi b Santner 82, Ashwin lbw b Santner 5, Saha not out 39, Jadeja c sub b Santner 6, Kumar not out 8. Extras: (B-10, LB-1, W-2) 13. Total: (for 8 wickets in 63.2 overs) 227. Fall of wickets: 1-12, 2-24, 3-34, 4-43, 5-91, 6-106, 7-209, 8-215. Bowling: Boult 14-5-28-2, Henry 15.2-2-44-3, Wagner 13-2-43-0, Patel 8-0-50-0, Santner 13-1-51-3.

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