Posted On October 10, 2016 By In Sport And 516 Views

India vs New Zealand, 3rd Test: Four and five make a perfect pair

“KOHLI KILLED us softly is the nicest way of describing it.” It wasn’t an admission you would generally expect from an opposition coach on a hot, unforgiving day where his team has pretty much been beaten to the ground. For, there can be nothing ‘soft’ about chasing the ball around for nearly two full days in the subcontinent with the home team piling on over 500 runs. But with that candid remark, New Zealand coach Mike Hesson had pretty much summed up the manner in which Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane had batted his team into submission. Or at least, how it felt being at the receiving end of the run glut at the Holkar Stadium on Sunday. First, let’s look at the staggering numbers that the two Indian batsmen achieved recorded over the first two days of Indore’s maiden Test. Their partnership of 365 was the highest Indian stand for the fourth wicket and the fifth-highest for any wicket in the country’s Test history. Kohli went on to score his second double-ton in three months while Rahane agonizingly fell 12 runs short of his maiden 200. It was only the second time that No.4 and No.5 had both scored a 150+ score — to put that into perspective just think of the plethora of batting moguls that have batted in those positions for India over the years. And by the end of Day Two, India had more or less tightened the noose on the hapless Kiwis after finally declaring their first innings at 557/5 with Rohit Sharma also completing a half-century. But what stood out was the way in which Kohli and Rahane went about tying the knot methodically, ruthlessly and painfully — if you were the opposition that is — despite holding the visitors by the scruff of the neck throughout the day. The control and lack of fuss with which they went about accumulating the mammoth partnership has now put India well on their way to claiming a whitewash. For the record, their stand lasted 112 overs, or 672 balls, and over 460 minutes. It’s not they you don’t expect batsmen of the modern era to forge partnerships of such epic proportions. But especially when it’s the first innings of a home Test with the opposition on the mat, it’s safe to assume that these runs will be amassed at a tempo more in tune with the times cricket thrives in. Rahane and Kohli in fact spent more time at the crease together than what VVS Laxman and Rahul Dravid had in Kolkata during their historic 376-run stand in 2001 against the Aussies. This despite India’s contemporary batting stalwarts having fallen 11 runs short of matching that record. In fact, of the top-8 highest partnerships of all time for India, only Vinoo Mankad and Pankaj Roy leased the pitch for longer — 472 minutes is the time it took Harry Cave’s New Zealand to separate them — than Rahane and Kohli during their erstwhile world record opening stand of 413 in 1956. Laxman and Dravid faced 625 balls together and occupied the crease for 446 minutes. It’s likely that the first images that come to mind from that epochal Test are Laxman opening up his stance and whipping Shane Warne across the turn to the mid-wicket fence in a manner that would have made an English public school teacher proud.

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