SK Player of the Day: Ravindra Jadeja for his spell of 5 for 73 on Day 3
The left-arm spinner was on fire on Saturday.
At the start of Day 3, New Zealand would have fancied their chances of getting a sizeable lead and thereby, take firm control of proceedings. But from the word go, India, especially the spinners, looked to assert themselves into the game, maintaining a tight line to build pressure.
That sustained effort paid off, as R Ashwin trapped Tom Latham to finally break the stand of 127 runs, which had the frustrated the hosts on Day 2.
It seemed like the scalp would help the off-spinner gain some confidence and pick a couple of more wickets as well. It did have a positive effect on his bowling, but it also spurred his spinning partner- Ravindra Jadeja- into action.
The left-arm spinner first trapped Ross Taylor in front with his straighter ball, that has proven to be very effective for him in the past 12-15 months and them came over the wicket to remove a set Luke Ronchi, who was combating him and Ashwin very well, with a full ball, which the right-hander missed and was given out lbw.
The over that gave India the edge
For a while after that, it was Ashwin who took over the mantle of the strike bowler, picking up Mitchell Santner, but in the 95th over of the innings, it was the ‘turn’ of the Saurashtra spinner to give one of the moments of the game so far.
He trapped Mark Craig in front to get his third wicket and then yet another batsman lbw, this time trapping Ish Sodhi in front, of the very next ball to find himself on a golden duck to find himself on a hat-trick.
Trent Boult the new man in, defended the hat-trick delivery and played on the next one as well.
Off the final ball over, however, Boult tried to defend but failed to come forward fully and as a result, the ball caught the inside-edge and it was taken by Rohit Sharma at silly point, which completed the five-wicket haul for the left-arm spinner.
He eventually finished with figures of 5 for 73 in 34 overs and played a vital role in India getting a lead of 56 runs, something that didn’t look possible at the end of Day 2.
Ever since he made a comeback into the Test side against South Africa last year, Jadeja has been among the wickets and also scored runs lower down the order.
With another innings to go and the cracks on the pitch likely to widen, Jadeja has a chance to take a 10-for in the game and help the hosts take a 1-0 lead in the series.
Watch the spell here