After India put on a massive 557 – 5 in the first innings of the 3rd Test at the Holkar Stadium in Indore, you can’t blame their bowlers for being a little rusty when they came on to bowl. Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane had posted career-best scores of 211 and 188 respectively and it ensured that India batted for a massive 169 overs in the first innings.
In their reply, Martin Guptill and Tom Latham were resolute in the 9 over barrage they faced from the Indians at the fag end of day 2. On day 3, it was a very different story as both the batsmen played to their strengths, displaying extraordinary composure. While Tom Latham remained steadfast in defense, Martin Guptill showed us why he is regarded as one of the best openers in limited overs cricket today.
The batsmen put on a swift 100-run partnership for the opening stand, the first time they had managed to do so in the entire series. What was even more impressive was the manner in which they scored their runs, having an answer to everything the Indian bowlers threw at them. At one point, the Indians even looked slightly deflated as they were leaking runs aplenty.
Ravichandran Ashwin turns the tide
Just before lunch, Tom Latham swept a full ball from Jadeja onto his shoe, before Ajinkya Rahane claimed a smart catch. He should have been given out, but the umpire thought otherwise and he survived. The very next over, Ashwin outsmarted him with a ball that was slower through the air, Latham closed the face of his bat too soon and Ashwin completed the catch.
Ashwin was only just getting started. After the lunch session, he was on fire. Kiwi skipper Kane Williamson was guilty of dragging a ball back onto his stumps, while Ross Taylor nicked one to Ajinkya Rahane.
All this while, Martin Guptill was assessing the action from the other side.
Ashwin gets Guptill
It was the last ball of the 47th over and Luke Ronchi got ready to face up to Ravi Ashwin. Ronchi, so far in the series, has been one of the few Kiwi batsmen who has countered spin effectively and would have been confident to see the over out.
His eyes lit up when he saw Ashwin drop a full ball. He got to the pitch of the ball and played it straight back aggressively. Ravi Ashwin, not a cricketer known for his fielding abilities, displayed razor-sharp reflexes to get his hands down in time.
The ball ricocheted off his hand and onto the stumps at the non-strikers' end where Martin Guptill was stationed. The Indians immediately wheeled away in celebration, but the umpire had to take a look upstairs.
Multiple replays were needed to confirm whether Ashwin got a finger to it, before the 3rd umpire deemed there was sufficient evidence that the off-spinner got a bit of his 3rd finger to it. The little bit of contact changed the trajectory of the ball towards the stumps.
Martin Guptill was short of his crease and he had to depart adjudged run out at the non-strikers end.
It is said that it is the most cruel manner to get out in cricket and it was even more so for the Kiwi opening batsman in this case. He had endured a torrid time so far in India, with many experts calling for his head. People even said that his performances in India were so poor that he would never represent his nation in the longest format again.
In the 3rd Test at Indore, he was exceptional in his knock of 72. He was displaying a steely resolve of a man who had something to lose. Ravichandran Ashwin couldn't get him out while bowling to him, but an exceptional piece of fielding ensured he sent the Kiwi man packing.
Shortly after, Luke Ronchi joined Martin Guptill in the Kiwi dressing room, leaving his team teetering at 143 - 5. The Kiwis had lost 5 wickets for 30 runs and Ashwin had played a part in all of those dismissals.
India now looks set to capitalize on the Kiwi's predicament and push for the whitewash.