India three wickets away from big win in first Test against New Zealand

Paceman Mohammed Shami struck twice after Luke Ronchi gifted away his wicket as India closed in on a huge win in the opening cricket Test by reducing New Zealand to 205 for seven at lunch on the fifth day, here today.

Overnight Kiwi batsmen Ronchi (80) and Mitchell Santner (56 batting) frustrated the Indian bowlers for about 20 overs, adding 65 runs to their overnight total of 93-4 before India struck thrice to position themselves for a massive win in their 500th cricket Test.

It was Ronchi, who handed India the opening when he went for a sweep slog against Jadeja and handed a top-edge to Aswhin.

The mistake ended his 102-run stand with Santner, who scored his maiden Test fifty.

New Zealand have now three wickets in hand, still requiring 229 runs, and they have two full sessions to negotiate to save the Test.

Santner remained solid from one end and defied the Indian bowlers for the next 10 overs with BJ Watling. Together they were involved in a 36-run stand, which was broken by Shami when he trapped the wicket-keeper batsman.

In his next over, Shami breached the defence of Mark Craig, who has been ruled out of the series due to a side strain.

The two wickets in successive overs, pegged New Zealand back.

Santner has struck five fours and two sixes in his 160-ball fighting knock, and had Ish Sodhi (2) for company at the break.

Batting with utmost caution, the overnight New Zealand players took 19 balls to score their first run this morning but after getting their eyes in, Ronchi and Santner negotiated the spin confidently to keep the hosts waiting for an early breakthrough.

Both jadeja and Ashwin flighted the ball through the air opting full length most of the time. Ronchi comfortably drove Jadeja in the cover region and Ashwin did not mind using his feet.

The two Kiwi batsmen soon started to score at a brisk pace with Santner even slog-sweeping Jadeja for a huge six over mid-wicket.

After persisting with Jadeja and Ashwin for 12 overs, India captain Virat Kohli asked paceman Umesh Yadav to bowl.

They frustrated India for the first hour and the hosts struck in the first over after drinks break when Ronchi was guilty of slogging a Jadeja ball.

(With PTI inputs)

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