Williamson stars with 89, but Ishant leads India fightback
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Williamson stars with 89, but Ishant leads India fightback

Agency News

Wellington, Feb 22 : The second day in Wellington was largely a good one for New Zealand as they posted a lead of 51 by stumps, with Kane Williamson’s 89 helping them to 216/5 after they bowled India out for 165. Ishant Sharma returned a fine 3/31 to keep New Zealand within reach, even as Williamson scored a 153-ball 89 and Ross Taylor, in his 100th Test, a 71-ball 44. The day began with Ajinkya Rahane and Rishabh Pant looking to revive India after they were reduced to 122/5 by stumps on the first day. However, things didn’t go to plan, despite Pant raising hopes with a lofted six off the fourth ball of the day. India managed to add just 43 runs to their overnight total, with Pant’s disastrous run-out triggering a collapse. Rahane pinged one to point and charged forward for a single, despite Pant’s cries denying the run.

Eventually, Pant sacrificed his wicket for his more experienced colleague. However, having gained an opening, New Zealand burst through. R Ashwin was undone by a fine outswinger from Tim Southee that took the top of his off stump. When Rahane himself was dismissed five overs later, caught behind off a bottom edge, India had little choice but to throw the kitchen sink at it.

That’s what Mohammed Shami did. He scored a 20-ball 21 to help push the total 165, but the innings was soon closed out in 68.1 overs, an ICC report said. India’s pacers took a while to find the right lengths. They needed to bowl fuller, and while Ishant did that to trouble batsmen, Shami and Jasprit Bumrah both struggled. Ishant broke through, a bit fortunately, with Tom Latham being caught off a harmless delivery down leg. Then, Tom Blundell and Kane Williamson parried.

They put on 47 for the second wicket, before Blundell was cleaned up by Ishant with a bit of inswing. That brought Taylor to the middle – he walked in to a standing ovation from the Basin Reserve – and for a good while thereafter, New Zealand dominated. Taylor and Williamson, much like they have numerous times before, proved impenetrable for a while, and eventually added 93 for the third wicket. There were some rasping boundaries between them, and neither batsman was shy to take the attack to the bowlers when the situation deemed it. India were, well and truly, made to toil. The breakthrough, once again, came thanks to Ishant.

It was a good length delivery, but there was extra bounce on it, and Taylor was caught unawares, the ball rebounding off his gloves to square leg. It was the opening India needed. Williamson looked to carry on bring about three figures, but couldn’t keep down a drive off Shami and was caught beautifully at cover. Then, late in the day, Henry Nicholls (17) was tempted into an edge by R Ashwin, with a delighted Virat Kohli taking the catch at slips. India had fought back to restore some respectability, and they will now hope for a couple of early wickets on the third morning to really get a foothold in the match.

Brief score:

India - 165

New Zealand - 216/5 .(UNI)

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