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Last week, New Zealand’s coach Mike Hesson mentioned Luke Ronchi could be tried as an opener in Tests in India. The reason was the wicketkeeper-batsman’s reputation in dealing with the turning ball better than some of the regular, top-order batsmen.
On Sunday, the experiment with Ronchi as an opener produced the desired result. The 35-year-old, looking to play only his second Test, responded with a 112-ball 107 as the three-day match between New Zealand against Mumbai ended in a draw at the Ferozeshah Kotla ground here
Trailing by 140 runs after Mumbai declared its first innings at 464 for eight, New Zealand was all out for 235 in the fourth mandatory over after which the play was called off.
If New Zealand sent the tailenders up the order, Mumbai responded by summoning non-regular bowlers to go through the motions.
After Mumbai resumed its first innings to enable overnight not-out Siddhesh Lad add 14 runs for a century, Ronchi played the lone hand until first-choice wicketkeeper-batsman B-J Watling scored 43.
New Zealand batted positively despite losing Martin Guptill cheaply for the second time in the match. The usual ‘tailenders’ Mitchell Santner, Doug Bracewell, Henry Nicholls and Trent Boult were promoted, in that order, but none could make it count.
Ronchi stroked freely for 15 boundaries and three sixes, as Mumbai used nine bowling options. Leg-spinner Parikshit Valsangkar picked up three wickets. Even though half the side was out for 138, New Zealand was never in danger of losing with batsmen scheduled to bat down the order.
The scores: New Zealand — 1st innings: 324 for seven decl.
Mumbai — 1st innings: Jay Bista c Watling b Boult 0, Kaustubh Pawar retd. out 100, Armaan Jaffer c Ronchi b Sodhi 69, Rohit Sharma st.
Fall of wickets: 1-0, 2-107, 3-133, 4-288, 5-446, 6-448.
New Zealand bowling: Trent Boult 12-4-35-1, Neil Wagner 14-4-39-0, Mitchell Santner 20-5-71-1, Doug Bracewell 10-2-38-0, Mark Craig 24-3-82-1, Ish Sodhi 20-3-132-2, Martin Guptill 5-0-42-0, Kane Williamson 4-0-12-0, James Neesham 5-1-11-0.
New Zealand — 2nd innings: Luke Ronchi st. Shaikh b Valsangkar 107, Martin Guptill c Yadav b Dabholkar 0, Mitchell Santner st. Sufian Sheikh b Lad 8, Doug Bracewell lbw b Deshpande 17, Henry Nicolls ct. Sufian Sheikh b Gohil 1, Trent Boult c Royston Dias b Gohil 15, B-J. Watling st. Shaikh b Valsangkar 43, Tom Latham retd. out 25, Neil Wagner c Soni b Lad 6, Mark Craig (not out) 2, Ish Sodhi c Dabholkar b Valsangkar 0; Extras (b-3, lb-1, nb-7): 11; Total (in 66.4 overs): 235.
Fall of wickets: 1-1, 2-24, 3-88, 4-91, 5-138, 6-162, 7-217, 8-235, 9-235.
Mumbai bowling: Balwinder Sandhu 4-2-3-0, Vishal Dabholkar 10-2-46-1, Harshal Soni 4-1-20-0, Siddhesh Lad 3-1-11-2, Vijay Gohil 16-3-61-2, Tushar Deshpande 4-0-15-1, Parikshit Valsangkar 12.4-0-41-3, Jay Bista 10-1-29-0, Royston Dias 3-0-5-0.