India are expected to complete the rites on Monday. New Zealand, who valiantly fought to save the first Test in Kanpur on the final day, are staring at a certain defeat in Mumbai. With five wickets down in their second innings, the match could end early on Day 4. In fact, it could have ended on Day 3. But Daryl Mitchell hit a half-century to delay the inevitable.
After the third day's play, Mitchell admitted that the world Test champions are in dire straits. They still need another 400 runs against India, whom they had defeated in the final of the inaugural edition of the ICC World Test Champions over six days. Here, in Mumbai, if they last four days, it will be considered a good fight.
"It's obviously a tough situation we're in, we've got another two days to bat now," Mitchell said. "It was just about going out and play our game, keep trying to put pressure back on their bowlers for as long as we can and hopefully that will put us in a position come day five where there might be a chance. Obviously, it's very challenging."
India declared their second innings at 276/7 with the first innings hero Mayank Agarwal top-scoring again, with 62 runs even as Kiwi left-arm spinner Ajaz Patel followed up his historic 10-wicket haul with four more scalps for best bowling figures against India in Test cricket.
Mitchell hailed Agarwal's approach and how the Indian opener countered the New Zealand spinners. The 30-year-old from Hamilton even conceded that he was trying to take a cue from Agarwal.
"The way Agarwal played in both innings for India, he put pressure on our spinners and he set the template for how I personally wanted to try and go about, taking on the Indian spinners today," Mitchell said.
After Ravichandran Ashwin claimed three early wickets in the second innings, Mitchell (60 off 92) and Henry Nicholls batted for 111 balls to add 73 crucial runs for the fourth wicket. Mitchell was also involved in a 63-ball stand with Will Young for the second.
But on Day 4, he will watch the proceedings from the sidelines. And the all-rounder, who famously helped New Zealand seal a T20 World Cup final spot, shared his disappointment.
"Disappointing to not still be out there and kick on but it was nice to get a partnership going. It's a pretty challenging surface, the ball's definitely turning there with your name on it," he added.
New Zealand will resume Day 4 at 140/5 (45) with Nicholls and Rachin Ravindra on 36 off 86 and 2 off 23 respectively.
India scored 325 runs in the first innings with Ajaz Patel taking all ten wickets. The hosts then dismissed the Kiwis for 62.