On Day 3, India’s familiar weaknesses came back haunting in away conditions - nagging tail, short deliveries and the ability to get a huge lead after conceding one in the first innings. For New Zealand, all boxes ticked - lower-order batting, short-ball plans and their tricks to get India reeling.
India’s normal dose of a nagging tail
It was not the first time India failed to wrap up the tail after getting early wickets in a day and by the looks of it, it will not be the last one too. When BJ Watling was dismissed, India had Colin de Grandhomme and Tim Southee to dismiss. They picked up Southee, however, they were not ready for Kyle Jamieson. Jamieson was a genuine surprise for the Indians, however, they have had the nack of allowing bowlers to score runs - Mitchell Starc, Sam Curran. Virat Kohli, in particular, missed a trick when he brought on Ravichandran Ashwin against the right-handed Jamieson. The lanky pacer hit four sixes off Ashwin and from there, the game started to drift wider and wider for India. If Kohli had brought on his strike bowlers when Jamieson walked in, things could have been different.
India’s issues with picking up the tail-enders has been a one of a recurring theme in every away tour. This time, the duo of Grandhomme- Jamieson put on 71 runs for an eight-wicket partnership. Grandhomme and Boult put on 14 runs of their own, and for the last wicket, Boult’s entertaining yet swashbuckling innings cost India 38 more on Day 3. In total, India conceded an extra 123 runs lead for the home side after getting an early wicket in the day. Kohli indeed missed a trick by not bowling his strike bowlers when the tail-enders walked in to bat, nearly costing India a Test.
New Zealand’s meticulous planning to dismiss Cheteshwar Pujara
When Prithvi Shaw top-edged one to the square leg fielder, the field immediately changed. The three men in the leg-side moved to the off-side for the new batsman, Cheteshwar Pujara. New Zealand’s approach to tackling Pujara was straightforward- bowl to him outside off and get him caught by surprise driving to the short-cover on the off-side. They were nearly successful when Colin de Grandhomme caught Pujara by surprise with the lack of bounce and pace on the wicket. The ball nearly popped straight to the fielder in short-cover, only for it to bounce centimetres short of the fielder. Pujara’s strength is often on the off-side when he manages to get it past the fielders in covers. It did not give the right-hander an easy single and he continued his toil for runs on Day 3.
New Zealand’s plan once again nearly resulted in a wicket, with Pujara taking off blindly for a quick single. All of this was part of New Zealand’s plan of stopping a single for the right-hander. They then tried bouncing Pujara out with a similar field in play. And, after hours of setting him up for the delivery, they got in Trent Boult for the actual play. Boult, bowling from around the wicket delivered the ball outside the off-stump on the sixth wicket line drawing Pujara forward to shoulder the ball for a death-rattle. Pujara was done by a meticulous work from Kane Williamson and the New Zealand bowling, and it all started with an off-side field.
Persistence with short delivery helps New Zealand
New Zealand’s ploy on Day 3 was visible, which incidentally was also their ‘Plan-B,’ which is to bounce the opposition out on an otherwise flat deck. After the wearing of the new-ball, the Kiwi pace attack, comprising the trio - Trent Boult, Kyle Jamieson and Tim Southee - opted to unleash the short ones. Early on, the duo of Cheteshwar Pujara and Mayank Agarwal struggled against the pacy deliveries. However, it also ensured that there were no easy runs on offer which continued to be the trend on Day 3 for the home pacers. When Virat Kohli arrived to bat, following the dismissal of Pujara, they continued their short-ball tactics. At one point, you could bank on the pacers to deliver at least three short-paced ones in the over. For Kohli, they went early on with the outside the off-stump tactics before employing the short ones.
Kohli’s weakness is a well-known fact in the cricketing world - one outside off. However, this time, the Indian skipper played it well, battling with his patience level to not poke one outside the off-stump. Just when he looked to have succeeded in the battle - New Zealand brought back their ‘A’ level bouncers. And, it immediately struck, with Kohli edging one to the keeper after a steep delivery from Trent Boult. New Zealand pacers, earlier against Australia showed their short-ball arsenal and once again brought the lethal weapon out against India on day 3 of the Test match.
Cricket FootBall Kabaddi