Cricket: Records tumble as Kohli and Rahane dominate Black Caps

By Andrew Alderson at Holkar Stadium

Indian batsman Ajinkya Rahane, left, celebrates his century with captain Virat Kohli. Photo / AP
Indian batsman Ajinkya Rahane, left, celebrates his century with captain Virat Kohli. Photo / AP

Flawless Indian batting dominated New Zealand on the second day of the third test at Indore.

Virat Kohli (211) and Ajinkya Rahane (188) composed an Indian record fourth-wicket partnership of 365 which was the cornerstone in the hosts declaring at 557-5 with the visitors to face nine overs.

Tom Latham and Martin Guptill negotiated that period to leave the Black Caps 28-0 at stumps. Five penalty runs were added after Indian batsman - and left-arm orthodox spinner - Ravindra Jadeja was punished for running on the pitch.

The wicket appears to be roughing up at the perfect time for India's spinners. Puffs of dusts are evident, but you can only truly judge the state of a match after both teams have batted.

The Kohli-Rahane partnership ruled the day. There were a handful of wishful appeals during their tenure and, while the ball flew left, right and over fielders at times, nothing went to hand in a masterclass of risk calculation.

The pair rewrote several records.

Each made his highest test score; the partnership was the fifth highest by Indian batsmen; and seventh highest for the fourth wicket internationally.

They eclipsed the previous Indian fourth-wicket record of 353, set by Sachin Tendulkar and VVS Laxman against Australia at Sydney in 2004.

The New Zealanders applied themselves in the field. Their athleticism saved plenty of runs but Kohli and Rahane luxuriated in perfect batting conditions.

Kohli's best shot of the day was an on-drive from Matt Henry to begin the 98th over. He bisected the bowler and mid-on to take India to 298-3. It might also have bisected New Zealand's ambitions from reality. The chances of a third win from 34 tests in India are minimal.

It wasn't as though Henry and New Zealand's strategists lacked a plan. As an example, the right-armer peppered Kohli with shorter balls on occasion, testing his discipline. Fine leg, long leg and deep mid-wicket lay in wait but Kohli exercised discretion.

Henry was again on set to play a supporting role in Rahane's finest stroke. The Indian No.5 swiveled as if in a well-oiled barber's chair and rolled the wrists into a pull shot which ricocheted off the long leg boundary hoarding.

The shot took him to 91 and extended his record of reaching a score of 90-plus in every test series he has played, apart his one-off debut against Australia in 2013.

Henry responded by coming around the wicket to tag Rahane on the shoulder blade. The ball ballooned away harmlessly (apart from the inevitable bruise).

The bowlers were benign but tidy for the most part - the run rate crept up from 2.97 to 3.23. Then again, a fire engine could have roared into the attack from the Colonel C.K Nayudu Pavilion end and it would have struggled to douse Kohli and Rahane's blaze of runs.

The scenario left you pondering what Neil Wagner might have contributed. Even before India's dominance, the left-armer's omission looked odd as the visitors opted to strengthen their batting order. The onus now goes on New Zealand's top seven - eight with Jimmy Neesham's addition - to deliver a weight of first innings runs.

"The left-arm seamer [Boult] will create a rough to help our spinners [bowling to right-handers]," Indian No.3 Cheteshwar Pujara forecast after the opening day. His assessment seems accurate.

"There's not a lot of bounce or lateral movement," added Jimmy Neesham. "If you can't get the ball reverse swinging, it's difficult against their quality batsmen." That proved correct, too.

- NZ Herald

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