Kanpur, Sep 25: Off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin claimed three wickets to leave New Zealand reeling at 93 for four at stumps with India tightening its grip on the first Test match in Kanpur Sunday.
New Zealand were still 341 runs behind their mammoth target of 434, with Luke Ronchi (38) and Mitchell Santner (8) battling on in India’s 500th Test.
The batting duo put on 37 runs for the fifth wicket to steady New Zealand’s innings after the visitors were reduced to 56 for four.
Ronchi, who has hit four fours and one six during his 58-ball stay, played with a positive intent to tackle the spinners on a turning day four track.
Ashwin rocked the New Zealand innings in his second over when he sent openers Martin Guptill and Tom Latham trudging back to the pavilion.
Guptill was unlucky as he got an inside edge onto his pads and the ball lobbed into the hands of Murali Vijay at short leg. He was out for nought.
The left-handed Latham, who scored a gritty 58 in the first innings, was trapped lbw for two as the batsman played for the off-break that did not turn.
Ashwin then got the prized wicket of captain Kane Williamson for 25, denting New Zealand’s chase at Kanpur’s Green Park.
It was Ashwin’s 200th Test wicket in his 37th match to stay second to Australia’s Clarrie Grimmett, who raced to 200 wickets in 36 games.
The visitors continued to slip further as Ross Taylor was run out for 17 after Umesh Yadav’s direct throw from deep mid-wicket hit the stumps at the non-strikers end.
Ronchi and Santner then held fort until the close of play to take the fight into the fifth and final day.
India declared their second innings on 377 for five at tea with Rohit Sharma and Ravindra Jadeja putting on a 100-run unbeaten partnership for the sixth wicket.
The duo played attacking cricket in the second session to put India on top. Jadeja hit two fours and three sixes during his 58-ball knock and Sharma struck eight boundaries for his fifth Test half-century.
Cheteshwar Pujara top-scored for the hosts with 78 and his 133-run second-wicket partnership with Murali Vijay (76) was the highlight of the innings.
New Zealand spinners Santner and Ish Sodhi claimed two wickets each as Mark Craig chipped in with one.
Earlier Ashwin and Jadeja, sharing nine wickets between them, had put India in control on Saturday after bowling out New Zealand for 262 in response to India’s 318 in the first innings.