Rohit steers India to big lead, puts fighting NZ on backfoot
Rohit Sharma’s love affair with the Eden Gardens continued as the Mumbai born batsmen scored a potential match winning knock of 82 runs. India emerged stronger in the battle of attrition against a gritty New Zealand to take complete control of the second cricket Test by grabbing a 339-run lead, riding on Rohit Sharma’s fluent 82-run knock on day three of the match here.
The Indians were pushed hard in the first two sessions but roared back in the final session to be 227/8 at stumps, which were again drawn early at 63.2 overs owing to bad light.
Wriddhiman Saha (39) and Bhuvneshwar Kumar (8) were at the crease when play ended for the day.
Despite the patchy batting performance, the hosts look set to go 2-0 up in the three-match series, a result that would also propel them to the top of the ICC Test rankings.
Earlier, resuming at yesterday’s 128/7, the Black Caps’ first innings wrapped up at 204 helped primarily by comeback-man Jeetan Patel’s run-a-ball 47, which was laced with nine hits to the fence.
The struggle on the difficult-to-negotiate Eden Gardens track, however, was not exclusive to the New Zealanders and the hosts too found the going tough.
The in-form duo of pacer Matt Henry (3/44) and Mitchell Santner (3/51) continued to deliver for New Zealand, especially in the post-lunch session before Virat Kohli’s men gathered themselves in the final session.
Reduced to 91/5, the home team was rescued by Rohit and Saha, who had scored an unbeaten half-century in the first innings as well. The two put on 103 run off 179 deliveries to steer India out of trouble.
Eden Gardens thus once again proved to be Rohit’s happy-hunting ground where he has a debut Test century, an ODI world record 264, two IPL titles for Mumbai Indians, beside a Ranji Trophy double.
Among the top half, Kohli, who has been struggling for some time, produced a fine 65-ball 45, including 7 fours, to announce his return to form before being trapped LBW by Boult off a delivery that kept low because of the unpredictable bounce.