India 557 for 5 dec and 18 for 0 lead New Zealand 299 (Guptill 72, Neesham 71, Latham 53, Ashwin 6-81) by 276 runs
Scorecard and ball- by-ball details
India declined to enforce the follow-on after R Ashwin's 20th five-wicket haul in Test cricket helped bowl New Zealand out for 299 on the third day of the Indore Test. Ashwin's 6 for 81 secured a 258-run lead, and left India enough time to bat again and give their bowlers a well-earned rest.
With six overs left to bat out at the end of the day, India stretched their lead to 276 without losing a wicket. But they didn't survive entirely unscathed. In the third over, Gautam Gambhir retired hurt after aggravating a shoulder injury he had sustained while fielding. Diving to complete a tight second run, he landed awkwardly and walked off clutching his shoulder. M Vijay, meanwhile, earned himself a caution as well as an official warning for running on the danger area of the pitch. A similar offence in the first innings had cost Ravindra Jadeja half his match fee while also conceding five penalty runs to New Zealand.
Ashwin took his first four wickets either side of lunch, dismantling New Zealand's top order after Martin Guptill and Tom Latham added 118 for the first wicket. The wicket of Latham began a collapse during which New Zealand lost five wickets for 30 runs. James Neesham led a recovery of sorts, adding 53 with BJ Watling for the sixth wicket and 52 with Mitchell Santner for the seventh, but Jadeja ended both those partnerships before they could assume worrying proportions. Turn and bounce caused Watling to glove to slip, while turn out of the rough found Santner's inside edge as he looked to drive out of the rough.
Neesham, playing his first innings of the series, swept the spinners impressively to get to 71 before the shot cost him his wicket against Ashwin. The ball pitched shorter than he expected, on an off-stump line, and hit him on the back leg. Umpire Kumar Dharmasena raised his finger in response to Ashwin's appeal, but replays suggested the ball may have turned past off stump. It only took India four overs to get the last two wickets, Ashwin dropping a return catch but deflecting the ball onto the stumps to run Jeetan Patel out at the non-striker's end - the second time he had effected such a dismissal in the innings - and Trent Boult holing out while looking to clear the on-side boundary.
On the least helpful pitch of the series, Ashwin's wickets came largely through his deception in the air, which constantly disrupted the batsmen's reading of line and length. For the third time in three innings, he dismissed Kane Williamson, New Zealand's best batsman. In the fourth over after lunch, Williamson went on the back foot to a good-length ball, tempted into cutting by the line wide of off stump. The ball didn't turn as much as the one that bowled him in the first innings in Kanpur, but it turned enough, with extra bounce, to cramp him and force him to chop on.
Ross Taylor was next to go, undone yet again by his technique of playing across the line while defending. The ball dipped and pitched shorter than Taylor had expected, which may not have caused him too much of a problem had his bat-swing had come straight down the line of the ball. Instead, as is often the case, it came down from gully towards wide mid-on, causing him to edge to slip.
Then came a bit of bad luck for Guptill, who, playing his first innings of any significance in the series, was caught out of his crease at the non-striker's end when Ashwin deflected a straight drive from Luke Ronchi onto the stumps. Having played an unwitting hand in his dismissal, Ronchi followed Guptill into the dressing room in Ashwin's next over, when drift caused him to play down the wrong line of an offbreak. Another catch for Ajinkya Rahane at slip, except he had to dive to his right to grab this one.
New Zealand's slump began 15 minutes before lunch, when Ashwin found a way past Latham's defiance. Latham had come into this Test match having scored 74 in his last innings, in Kolkata. There, and in this innings, his success was partly down to the method he had worked out to reduce the likelihood of lbw against the spinners, by taking a shorter front-foot stride, and playing with his bat in front of his pad.
Even in Kolkata, Ashwin had tried to exploit one pitfall of this technique - the increased chance of the left-hand batsman opening up while looking to play balls around leg stump - with two silly points in place, waiting for the leading edge. That tactic didn't produce a wicket in Kolkata but it did now, as he looped one slower, just outside leg stump, and got it to grip and turn. Latham, closing his bat-face early, offered a simple return catch off the leading edge.
Latham had enjoyed a big slice of luck in just the previous over. Looking to sweep Jadeja, he had inside-edged the ball onto his boot, and it had then popped up to slip. Umpire Bruce Oxenford, though, turned down India's appeal, and did not consult either his on-field colleague Kumar Dharmasena or the third umpire, suggesting he hadn't spotted the inside edge.
The moment only added to India's frustrations on a morning where things hadn't gone their way, thanks to a combination of smart batting from both openers, missed chances and half-chances, and a pitch that continued to behave in a manner contrary to its cracked and roughed-up appearance.
In the fourth over of the morning, Guptill drove loosely at Mohammed Shami and nicked to gully, where Rahane dropped a chance that went quickly but more or less straight to him. Then, three overs deeper into his spell, Shami watched in frustration as Latham flicked in the air only for the ball to fall short of Jadeja, diving to his left from short midwicket. Both he and Umesh Yadav had bowled with one, and frequently two catchers in front of the wicket on the leg side, as Virat Kohli went with pace from both ends for the first ten overs of the morning. New Zealand scored 23 runs in that period.
Spin came on from both ends after that, and the run-flow quickened, with both batsmen showing a desire not to let the spinners get on top. Early in his spell, Guptill punished two minor infringements of length from Jadeja, off successive balls: first he jumped back to a marginally short ball and smacked him to the midwicket boundary; then he saw one tossed up into his driving arc and lofted it effortlessly over the long-off boundary.
Both spinners dropped short with uncharacteristic frequency. Guptill slapped Jadeja to the cover boundary to bring up his fifty, and in the next over Latham whipped Ashwin through midwicket before driving him to the straight boundary when he over-compensated with his length.
When Latham swept Jadeja for another four to bring up his half-century, New Zealand had scored 57 off their previous 47 balls. India needed ideas to break this partnership. Ashwin happened to have a nifty one up his sleeve.