Kolkata: Pacer Bhuvneshwar Kumar's devastating five-wicket haul after a late batting blitzkrieg put India firmly in command as they reduced a hapless New Zealand to 128 for 7 on the rain-hit Day 2 of the second Test in Kolkata on Saturday.
The Indians, resuming at 239/7, produced a purposeful batting performance in the morning session with Wriddhiman Saha (54 not out) scoring his third Test half-century to help the team reach 316 in the 105th over before the fall of the their last wicket.
In reply, the Black Caps were tottering at 128/7, still 188 runs behind and facing the prospect of another big defeat after the 197-run drubbing in the opening Test in Kanpur.
The wrecker-in chief was Bhuvneshwar with a sensational 5-33, his fourth five-wicket haul in Tests, from 10 overs that broke the back of New Zealand's batting.
The Kiwis faced 34 overs in all on Saturday after a bulk of the final session was held up due to wet ground conditions and stumps were drawn early because of bad light.
It was a turnaround of sorts for India, who had staggered to 239/7 on the opening day on a pitch that offered uneven bounce.
But the lower order came up with a confident performance to push India over the 300-run mark, helped to a large extent by Saha's gritty knock which came off 85 balls and was laced with seven fours and two hits over the boundary line.
With a good total on the board, the Indian bowlers were incisive against their rivals in the post-lunch session, reducing them to 85 for 4.
However, weather played spoilsport close to tea and an early break was taken which eventually lasted two and a half hours.
Passing showers of less than 10 minutes were enough to leave the ground unplayable for more than two hours. However, once play got underway, Bhuvneshwar lit up the gloomy atmosphere with his feisty spell.
Included in place of Umesh Yadav, Bhuvneshwar was at his furious best, bowling a tidy line and length as he removed stand-in skipper Ross Taylor (36) in his first over after play was resumed following a two and half hours delay.
Bowling a beautiful line, Bhuvneshwar dismissed Taylor after he jabbed the ball at first slip and took two wickets in two balls by removing Mitchell Santner (11) and Matt Henry (0) off successive balls.
Mohammed Shami (1/46) bowled with pace and bounce to tighten the noose at the other end.
Reduced to 23/3 shortly after the lunch break when Bhuvneshwar castled Henry Nicholls, Taylor and Ronchi (35) put in their best effort to build a partnership, but it did not last long with Jadeja (1/17) cutting it short at 62 runs.
Ronchi was trapped on his backfoot by Jadeja off a delivery which seemed to be going down the leg but umpire Rod Tucker had other ideas.
In fact, Ronchi's innings almost ended at 16 but he was dropped at point by substitute Gautam Gambhir, who put down a tough chance for which he got a fraction of a second to react.
Suddenly a thick cloud covered the sky above Eden, and passing showers meant that the match had to be stopped for an early tea break.
Earlier, youngster Nicholls, who replaced skipper Kane Williamson in the side, dragged a widish delivery onto his stumps in a replay of Shikhar Dhawan's dismissal as India kept taking regular breakthroughs.
In reply to India's 316, New Zealand lost Tom Latham (1) and Martin Guptill (13) in successive overs with Shami and Bhuvneshwar taking the wickets.
Shami struck in his first over to trap Latham LBW, while Guptill continued with his woeful run to be bowled by Bhuvneshwar when the ball hit his elbow before crashing on to the stumps.
In the morning session, the highlight was Saha's gritty 54 not out -- his third Test half-century in India. He was involved in a quick 31-ball 35 last wicket partnership with Shami (14 from 14 balls; 3x4) which took India past 300.
Resuming the day at 14, Saha got hit on his elbow by a rising delivery from Matt Henry and was up against an attacking field with a packed slip cordon, a forward short leg and a leg gully.
But he was calm, unnerved and slowly came into his own replying to Henry with a delicate boundary, dissecting the packed slip cordon as India went past 250.
At the other end, Jadeja, who was yet to open his account endured a testing time from the three Kiwi pacers -- Henry, Trent Boult and Neil Wagner. The left-hander could only breathe easy after spin was introduced in the 10th over of the day.
Jadeja looked to break free after stepping out to left-arm spinner Mitchell Santner for a six in the previous over, but Wagner set him up brilliantly.
Jadeja pulled a straight catch to Matt Henry at fine leg for the day's first dismissal.
India were soon reduced to 281/9 but the two local lads in Saha and Shami scripted a revival. Saha looked effortless and made steady progress. He was all attack when spin was introduced.
Saha hit Santner over mid-on for a boundary and followed it up with a glorious inside-out shot over long off to bring up his first fifty in India.
For Saha, who has had one century and two fifties, this half-century came at a crucial period when India looked in danger of being dismissed for under 250 after Friday's poor show in the first hour.
Matt Henry was the top wicket-taker for New Zealand with his 3/46, while Neil Wagner, Trent Boult and Jeetan Patel accounted for two each.
India lead the three-match series 1-0 with their massive 197 runs victory in Kanpur Test.
Published Date: Oct 01, 2016 05:28 pm | Updated Date: Oct 01, 2016 05:50 pm