Kolkata: India struck thrice through their spinners to make inroads into the New Zealand batting, leaving the visitors at 135 for three at tea on the penultimate day of the second Test at the Eden Gardens here today.
Set a target of 376 after India’s second innings folded for 263 this morning, New Zealand fought hard in the afternoon session before losing their way. Opener Tom Latham (74* off 144) held his end well and was batting alongside Luke Ronchi (9) at the break.
Trailing 0-1 in the three-match series, New Zealand further require 241 runs to stop India from sealing the series.
Ashwin struck on the fifth ball after lunch, removing the out-of-form Guptill (24) to break the 55-run opening partnership. India took three wickets in the session giving away 80 runs as the ace offspinner registered figures of 2/62..
After Guptill’s departure, Henry Nicholls gave good support to Latham before falling to Jadeja (1/25) for 24, getting caught at slips.
All this while, Latham stood firm and completed his second successive half-century and ninth overall by sweeping Jadeja to deep square leg.
An excellent battle was in display between Latham and Jadeja who was even warned by umpire for running on the pitch. Latham’s had luck on side as he mistimed one off Ashwin only to survive with confusion prevailing between Kohli and the bowler.
Kohli dived for the catch from short cover but it was a half-hearted one realising that Ashwin too was going for it as neither of them could hold onto it.
Earlier, New Zealand were 55 for no loss at lunch, chasing an improbable 376-run target set by India. Both the New Zealand openers, Latham and Guptill looked steady in the middle while playing 16 overs before the break. Latham hit four boundaries and looked solid in his innings even as Mohammed Shami tested him by bowling round the wicket.
Guptill, who has been short of runs in the series, looked anxious and survived a close LBW appeal on 6 when he was trapped in front of the middle stump but umpire Rod Tucker felt differently.
Ravichandran Ashwin was introduced in the ninth over but the track offered little turn and the Kiwi opening duo survived the first session of the fourth day.
Trailing 0-1 in the three-match series, the Kiwis have two more sessions and one full day tomorrow to save the Test and series.
Scoreboard at tea on the fourth day of the second Test between India and New Zealand here today:
India 1st innings: 316
New Zealand 1st innings: 204
India 2nd innings: 263
New Zealand 2nd innings:
T. Latham batting 74
M. Guptill lbw b Ashwin 24
H. Nicholls c Rahane b Jadeja 24
R. Taylor lbw b Ashwin 4
L. Ronchi batting 9
Total (3 wickets; 52 overs) 135
Bowling: Kumar 8-1-23-0, Shami 10-2-25-0, Ashwin 22-4-62-2,Jadeja 12-2-25-1.