By Greg Stutchbury
WELLINGTON (Reuters) - The run-out of aggressive wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant early on the second day of the test between New Zealand and India was probably crucial in the hosts' ensuring they took a small lead into day three, pace bowler Tim Southee said on Saturday.
Pant was called through for a single by Ajinkya Rahane in the fourth over on day two, and while the wicketkeeper told his vice captain several times there was no run, he sacrificed himself and took off for the single.
A direct hit by Ajaz Patel from cover left Pant short of his ground and trudging back to the pavilion for 19. India were eventually bowled out for 165.
"I think the run-out of Pant was a big play this morning," said Southee, who was bowling when the run-out was executed and then ran through the tail with three wickets.
"With him being such a dangerous player, especially leading into the second new ball, he could score really quickly along with Jinks (Rahane).
"We knew that once we could open up an end (and face) the bowlers, Jinks would look to play a bit more aggressively and that brings you into a play a bit more.
"I think the way we bowled this morning was pretty good."
New Zealand finished the day on 216-5, holding a 51-run lead, but it could have been better had they not lost Kane Williamson (89), Ross Taylor (44) and Henry Nicholls for 17 in the final hour.
Williamson and Taylor combined for 93 runs and had taken the hosts past India's first innings before Ishant Sharma broke the partnership when he dismissed Taylor.
Ishant, who only arrived in the country just before the test as he battled with his recovery from a torn ligament in his ankle and said he was suffering badly from jet lag, finished the day with figures of 3-31 from 15 overs.
"He's been a word class bowler for a long time," Southee said of the tall right hander's performance.
"When you're slightly underdone in terms of preparation and having an injury coming into the series you can call on previous experience.
"He has played 90-odd test matches and he knows what he needs to do to get himself right for a test match and when the preparation isn't ideal he is able to find ways to perform like he has."
(Reporting by Greg Stutchbury; Editing by Gerry Doyle)