“Can’t look too far ahead, need short-term goals” – Ashwin

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India's Ravichandran Ashwin celebrates New Zealand's Henry Nicholls being caught during day two of the first Test cricket match between New Zealand and India at the Basin Reserve in Wellington on February 22, 2020. (Photo by Marty MELVILLE / AFP) (Photo by MARTY MELVILLE/AFP via Getty Images)

Led by some handy lower order contributions, New Zealand powered their way to 348 on Sunday (February 23) before being bundled out in the first innings, taking a 183-run lead. A good part of that effort came from a 71-run stand between Colin de Grandhomme and debutant Kyle Jamieson for the eighth wicket, followed by Trent Boult’s brisk 24-ball 38. Their contributions allowed New Zealand to revive from 225 for 7, as the last three stands kept the Indian bowlers at bay for almost 26 overs, and 123 runs.

The inability to bowl out the tail isn’t a new problem that India is plagued with. In fact, in the last two years, they have taken the most number of deliveries to run through the lower order. Speaking about why the Indian bowlers have struggled, R Ashwin passed on the credit to New Zealand’s lower order batters and said, “I think sometimes we pay too much importance to saying we need to bowl out teams far quicker, and I am not saying we shouldn’t. But batsmen don’t get out anymore. Lower-order batters do put a price on their wickets.

“If you were on two wickets say 20-25 years ago, you would probably end up with a five-for. Jamieson has got a couple of first-class hundreds if I am not wrong (Well, he is wrong) and Ajaz Patel, he can bat as well. Boult batted really well. You got to give credit where it is due. Like I said, they really understand these conditions very well and use it to their advantage. They try and hit it with the breeze they know what works and what doesn’t. That’s something we should quickly learn from them and try and compete with them.”

However, that’s not where India’s miseries ended on Day 3. India’s top order faltered yet again, even as all the batsmen managed to get into double digit figures. The visitors were reduced to 144 for 4 at stumps, still reeling with a 39-run deficit. Explaining why the top order failed to make good use of their starts, Ashwin said, “If I knew, I would tell you! I really don’t know, I don’t have an answer for that question.

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