New Zealand pacer Tim Southee believes that Rishabh Pant’s freak run-out went a long way in changing the course of the Indian innings that eventually folded up for 165 in the first Test here on Saturday.
Pant, who started the day with a six in the first over suffered because of Ajinkya Rahane‘s poor call and India lost five wickets for 33 runs from that point. Rahane himself fell to Southee as he inside edged to the keeper trying to shoulder arms and late inward movement became his undoing.
Asked if there was any strategy to dismiss Rahane, Southee replied: “No, the run-out of Pant was a big this morning. With him (Pant) being such a dangerous player and leading into that second new-ball, he could have scored quickly along with Jinks (Rahane’s nickname).”
Southee knew that Rahane had no option but to attack once Pant was dismissed.
“We knew though if we could open one end up with the bowlers, then Jinks was looking to play a little bit more aggressively, which brings us into play a little more.
“The way we bowled this morning was pretty good. To come off and finish the Indian batting line-up like that with two dangerous players in this morning, said Southee, who picked four wickets.
Southee has never been an out and out fast bowler and at this stage of his career, he relies on his ability to move the ball both in the air and off the pitch.
“Well, I probably gave up worrying about speed a while ago, so I guess you’ve got to rely on other skills, and I guess swing, there was a little bit of swing there today.
“Not been as windy as it was yesterday, so us as a bowling unit, we try to expose that swing when we get it, and there was a little bit there today,” said Southee.
On the day, Southee reckoned that one wicket less had been a better effort. New Zealand were 216 for five at stumps on day two, leading India by 51 runs.
“You always want to be one wicket less than what you are. But saying that, if we can carry on tomorrow morning, get a couple of partnerships together and try and build that lead, then going into the second innings it will be nice.”
There was some turn on offer for Ashwin and that surprised Southee, who hasn’t seen pitches at the Basin Reserve offer turn on day two.
“There is a little bit of spin. You don’t usually see that on Day 2 at the Basin. That’s why the first innings becomes important. If we can build those partnerships and eke out as big a lead as we possibly can then I guess that makes that second innings a little bit easier. I’m not sure how the wicket’s going to play over the next few days.”