New Zealand took 47 minutes to take India’s four remaining wickets, but Ravindra Jadeja continued to justify his selection with a 16-run last-wicket partnership with Jasprit Bumrah. On paper, New Zealand had “only” 132 to get, but there was enough seam and swing in the conditions to keep India interested.
That is exactly why New Zealand would have wanted to dismiss India for as little as they could on the third morning. They succeeded with the task with the first three wickets. Hanuma Vihari was a tad unlucky that he tickled one down leg for BJ Watling to take. It is perhaps not unlucky on flat surfaces, but here when you are watching out for seam, swing, bounce and trying to cover your off stump, it seems like a rather cruel way to get out.
There was nothing cruel with how Rishabh Pant got out, pushing repeatedly and defensively at deliveries outside off. This was just the time for Pant to play a typically aggressive innings to try to unsettle the bowlers, but he played low-percentage defensive shots outside off: the best you do is middle them for a dot, and the worst is to edge them with no chance of them flying over the slips. When he did that three balls in a row to Trent Boult, the third one took the edge. Was Pant playing not to the conditions but all the criticism and axes he has faced for seemingly “irresponsible” shots in the past? Only he will know.
Mohammed Shami showed the right intention when he went for a slog, but he ended up hitting into the wind, and also New Zealand had a deep forward square leg in place just for that. India’s lead read 115 at that time, but Jadeja and Bumrah proceeded to frustrate New Zealand. Jadeja’s six back over Boult’s head was special while Southee kept swinging it past the bat of Bumrah. To the last ball of an over, Bumrah wanted to run to hand over the strike to Jadeja, but Boult had done well to cramp the batsman up with a short ball. It went nowhere, Boult fielded well in his follow-through, and Kane Williamson did better to be there to collect the throw as it missed the stumps.
It was time for a heavy roller, and the final act of the series to be played out.