India had another difficult day on their tour of New Zealand, on the opening day of the Christchurch Test, after they were bowled out for 242, before the home side posted a solid 63/0 by stumps.
Asked to bat, India’s batting troubles seemed to have abated when Prithvi Shaw scored a quick 64-ball 54 at the top. However, a middle order slide, delayed by half-centuries from Cheteshwar Pujara (54 off 140) and Hanuma Vihari (55 off 70), meant they were once again put under the pump, with Kyle Jamieson, playing just his second Test, returning a fine 5/45.
On a green pitch, India’s bowlers then had a go at the New Zealand openers Tom Latham and Tom Blundell. But despite a couple of testing deliveries, they fought through and ended the day with a solid, unbroken stand of 63. New Zealand now trail India’s total by 179.
India will have hoped for more from Shaw, given the start he gave them. He was adventurous, and his 64-ball knock comprised eight fours and a six. India, however, could not capitalise. Mayank Agarwal lasted just 11 balls before being trapped in front by Trent Boult, and when Shaw followed suit, after adding 50 runs with Pujara. India stood at 80/2 in the 20th over.
Their position then dwindled rapidly. Skipper Virat Kohli’s poor tour continued when he was trapped lbw for 3 by an inswinger from Tim Southee, who has now managed to dismiss the second ranked batsman in the MRF Tyres ICC Test Batting Rankings 10 times in international cricket. Ajinkya Rahane was on a 27-ball 7, when he became Southee’s second victim.
At 113/4, India were under some pressure, but Hanuma Vihari joined Pujara, and India had their best patch of the day. The two came prepared for a fight, and their 81-run stand for the fifth wicket put India on the ascendancy. Both players scored half-centuries, playing watchful knocks for the most part, but were always on the lookout for the loose deliveries to put away.
However, two quick wickets took the sting out of India. The stand was broken when Vihari attempted a needless pull at the stroke of tea, only to glove a Neil Wagner bumper to the ‘keeper. And then Pujara followed suit in similar fashion, playing an uncharacteristic pull off Jamieson, but top-edging it to BJ Watling behind the stumps.
From 194/4, India were 197/6, and when Rishabh Pant was dismissed for a disappointing 14-ball 12, it was all down to the lower order. Mohammed Shami (16 off 12) and Jasprit Bumrah (10 off 11) swung their bats around to push the total to respectability, but New Zealand were always in control there on.
India will now hope their pacers can make the most of the movement expected to be on offer on the second morning.
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