Mumbai: India’s middle-order worries going into South Africa series remained but that didn’t deter Ravichandran Ashwin from turning the heat on as his three quick blows left New Zealand tottering at 140 for five in pursuit of an impossible 540 on day three of the second Test.

While Daryl Mitchell (60 off 92 balls) and Henry Nicholls (36 batting) added 73 runs for the fourth wicket, there is no denying that India in all likelihood will finish it early on the fourth day with Ashwin (3/27) looking menacing after every passing over. What will hurt New Zealand team most in this defeat is the fact that this is the game where one of its own – Ajaz Patel, equalled the world record and grabbed a match-haul of 14 wickets, something that no one has ever done against India in Test cricket.

The tall Mitchell at least tried to use his reach to counter Ashwin and also attack Jayant Yadav and Axar Patel but looked more like the last man standing, trying to delay the inevitable before a rush of blood saw him being holed at deep extra cover. Tom Blundell had a suicidal runout going for a non-existent single.

But it was Ashwin, who again got the new ball and immediately got into the act by

removing skipper Tom Latham with an angular delivery while Will Young gave bat pad to forward short leg and Ross Tayor, who has been a walking wicket, failed miserably in his attempt to slog sweep the wily off-spinner.

Skipper Virat Kohli, whose primary aim of not enforcing follow-on was to get some batting time under his belt, also didn’t look confident during a scratchy innings of 36 off 84 balls. India declared their second innings at 276 for 7 after Axar hit four sixes and three fours in his 41 off 26 balls to prop up the innings towards the end.

Kohli’s idea of batting again was partially successful because Pujara did look good during his 47 and Mayank Agarwal (62, 108 balls) did his cause no harm by smashing another half-century to top up his first innings score of 150. The duo added 107 runs for the opening stand to add insult to New Zealand’s injuries and it was compounded by another 82 runs that Shubman Gill (47) added with Kohli.

Save a six that he hit off opposition’s weakest link, Will Sommerville, Kohli for the better part of his 84 balls didn’t look convincing before playing on to a friendly left-arm spin from Rachin Ravindra, who also had three wickets.
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