Kolkata: India ended the day three of Kolkata Test in commanding position. India were 227 for 8 and are leading by 339 runs. The men in blue were in trouble at 106 for 6 and then Rohit Sharman and Wriddhiman Saha scored a crucial partnership of 103 runs to completely take the game away from the visitors.
New Zealand came out all guns blazing as the pair of Jeetan Patel and Bradley John Watling added valuable runs to take Kiwis out of a very bad position. Patel scored an enterprising 47 runs and surprised the Indians with his counter attack. Ravindra Jadeja overstepped and Patel got a reprieve but that did not cost India too much.
NZ scored 204 and handed India a lead of 112 runs on a pitch which was deteriorating by the minute. India had a shaky start and lost their openers quickly as Murali Vijay (7) and Shikhar Dhawan scored(17) runs. The first innings run getter Cheteshwar Pujara got out for four runs and India were surrendering their lead and were falling like nine pins.
Virat Kohli, captain scored a quick fire 45 runs and turned the tables. Kohli was very attacking and capitalised on loose balls and was looking like his old self. He would be upset that he couldn’t score a big one but he got out to a ball that kept really low and got out to Trent Boult, who bowled from round the wicket and the pitch helped him.
Rohit Sharma, who has been under pressure to perform, played a marvellous knock. He took pitch completely out of the equation and played an innings that will be remembered for a long time. Sharma loves Eden Gardens surface as he has over the years scored runs in all format for not only for India but for his IPL franchise Mumbai Indians as well. This is the same venue where he scored a magnificent 264 (world record) in an ODI against Sri Lankans in late 2014.
Saha, fresh from a crucial fifty in the first innings proved to be an able ally and both Sharma and Saha rotated the strike well and frustrated the Black Caps to tire them out. NZ finally broke the stand but it was too late and they are really looking at their second defeat in the series.
Matt Henry and Mitchell Santner took three wickets each and were the only bowlers looked threatening as Patel and Neil Wagner were inconsistent to create pressure for long periods.
Ross Taylor, captain has a tough task to make a comeback and no team has successfully chased down a target of over 300 runs. The re laid pitch at Kolkata is showing variable bounce and Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja would be licking their lips to have a bowl.
The match hangs in the balance and India would regain the No.1 ranking if they get the remaining 10 Kiwi wickets. Anil Kumble, head coach and Kohli would be telling the boys to just focus on the basics and do their roles to take an unassailable lead in the series.