As the rain came pouring down on Friday afternoon in Kanpur, the Kiwis could sit back and enjoy the pleasant weather with a cup of tea. Their skipper Kane Williamson, along with young opening batsman Tom Latham had put on an unbeaten 117 run stand for the second wicket to ensure that the game was right in the balance after two days.
The Indians had subjected the pair to an intense 'trial by spin' as Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja gave it their all in an effort to break the resistance. The duo remained steadfast in front of the barrage and carried their bats home at the end of day's play.
Earlier in the day, the visitors had reduced the Indian lead to 166 after their bowlers had done an admirable job on the first four sessions of the game. On a sunny day 3 at the Green Park in Kanpur, the Kiwis looked set to take the game to the Indians, possibly to erase the deficit and post a lead for their bowlers.
While they must have prepared for the further examination by the Indian spinners, they might not have expected the intensity with which the bowlers started the day. Within the first half-hour, they had lost three wickets to the spin duo and were reeling at 170 - 4, adding a mere 18 runs to the overnight total.
Ashwin had trapped Tom Latham right in front in the 52nd over, ending his resistance after a solid knock of 58. Within the next 4 deliveries, Ross Taylor joined his compatriot without troubling the scorers as fell to a Ravindra Jadeja slider.
Ravichandran Ashwin vs Kane Williamson
Ashwin was finding his rhythm, enjoying the purchase he was getting from the pitch on day 3 while the runs were coming smoothly for Kane Williamson as he knocked the ball around with ease to start the day.
On the 4th ball of the 56th over, Kane Williamson took his guard to face Ashwin. The memory of getting knocked on the helmet the previous day might have still been fresh.
Ashwin dropped the ball on a length, on a 7th stump line outside off, at first sight, there looked to be no immediate danger. Williamson had planted his front foot towards the pitch of the ball, preparing to defend it towards cover. Upon pitching, the ball spun in wickedly, going through the gate as the batsman looked to get back in position to defend.
Caught between going front and coming back, the ball zipped between Williamson's bat and pad and smashed the top of middle stump.
While the batsman was all at odds, resting against his bat that was planted on the ground in resignation, Ravi Ashwin had wheeled away in celebration with his tongue out in sheer delight of his mastery. Virat Kohli and his troops came charging in to congratulate the off-spinner and the celebrations were more animated that usual.
The cameras immediately cut to a desolate looking New Zealand dressing room and ecstatic Indian fans in the crowd, who were waving their country's flag in joy.
The wicket would prove to be key as the rest of the New Zealand batsmen had no answer to India's spin wizardry and the team was knocked over for a total of 262. They only managed to add 110 runs to their overnight total while losing 9 wickets, with the final 5 batsmen falling adding a mere 7 runs to the scoreboard.
As day 3 comes to a close with India holding a healthy lead, one's mind immediately goes back to that magical delivery from Ashwin. Countless replays do not do justice to the mastery in that delivery.
It's a moment trapped in history now. It might just be the perfect tribute to India's spin legends over the years on the occasion of the country's 500th Test.