Starting their second innings, India did not taste much success and their top-order once again failed to spend considerable time at the crease. The New Zealand bowlers clinical and India ended the day with 144-4, still trailing by 39 runs in the second innings.
India would hope that the unbeaten pair of Ajinkya Rahane (25*) and Hanuma Vihari (15*) survive on Day 4 for long and rescue the team from this crisis by putting enough runs on the board. But for now, let's take a look at the three talking points of the eventful Day 3 of the first Test:
1. New Zealand tail-enders spoil India's party
After taking three wickets in the last session on Day 2, the Indian bowlers needed to wrap up New Zealand innings as quickly as possible. And things seemed to go India's way as the day started with Jasprit Bumrah (1/88) and Ishant Sharma (5/68) scalping the wickets of BJ Watling (14) and Tim Southee (6) respectively to reduce New Zealand from 216-5 to 225-7. At that stage, India just needed to run through the Kiwi lower-order to prevent them from taking a massive lead.
However, New Zealand's tail-enders had other plans. The pair of Colin de Grandhomme (43) and Kyle Jamieson (44) made the Indian bowlers toil as they added 71 runs for the 8th wicket to keep New Zealand well ahead. Towards the end, the 38-run (24 balls) cameo by Trent Boult propelled the New Zealand innings to a total of 348.
The gutsy batting of New Zealand's lower-order helped them take a lead of 183 runs in the first innings.
2. Despite cautious approach, Indian top-four come up short
After conceding a lead of 183 runs in the first innings, the Indian openers had to give India a steady start for the side to post a competitive target. The Indian batsmen needed to be cautious while judging the ball and regarding their shot selection. But despite a defensive approach, the Indian top-order batsmen bowed down in front of the New Zealand bowlers, hampering India's chances of saving the match.
Prithvi Shaw lost his wicket after a 30-ball 14. Cheteshwar Pujara spent ample time at the crease scoring a 81-ball 11, but was dismissed before he could capitalise. Mayank Agarwal (58) looked good with the bat and held one end. But he too threw away his wicket after scoring his fifty while trying to play a ball down the leg-side. Skipper Virat Kohli also departed after a 43-ball 19, eventually leaving India struggling at 113-4, still trailing by 80 runs.
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The New Zealand bowlers once again proved their superiority over the Indian top-order batsmen, making India's position in the match even more vulnerable. After their top-order collapse, India would hope that their lower-middle order steps up and scores enough runs to challenge New Zealand in the final innings of the match.
3. Colin de Grandhomme's crucial role with the ball
New Zealand's frontline bowlers were outstanding with ball in the second innings too. Trent Boult (3/27) was the pick of the bowlers. Tim Southee (1/41) too joined the party by scalping the wicket of Mayank Agarwal. Kyle Jamieson, despite going wicketless on Day 3, bowled with an economy of 1.9.
But apart from the clinical performance of the trio, another bowler who played an important role was Colin de Grandhomme. The right-arm medium-fast bowler consistently hit the right line and length and did not allow the Indian batsmen to score runs. Although he could not make his way to the wicket taker's list, his economical spells pressurized the Indian batsmen in terms of scoring, helping the other specialist fast bowlers. Moreover, his efficient bowling also relieved the frontline bowlers from bowling long spells which helped them to steam in during their spells.
Grandhomme's bowling figure of 14-5-25-0 with an economy rate of 1.8 on Day 3 played an important role to boost New Zealand's bowling performance which helped them tame the famed Indian batting lineup.