Mitchell Santner and Trent Boult helped New Zealand strike back to check India’s surge in the first Test as the hosts were left reeling at 291 for nine on the opening day in Kanpur Thursday.
Left-arm spinner Santner and pace spearhead Boult took three wickets each to plot India’s downfall after the hosts looked strongly placed on 154 for one in the country’s 500th Test.
Ravindra Jadeja on 16 and Umesh Yadav on eight were at the crease at close of play.
India, who elected to bat first, looked set to post a commanding lead thanks to half-centuries from Murali Vijay and Cheteshwar Pujara, only to then lose the inititive.
Opener Lokesh Rahul gave India a solid start before a 112-run second-wicket stand between Vijay and Pujara.
Santner broke the big partnership after getting Pujara caught and bowled for 62 as India lost three wickets in the second session of play.
Vijay, who top-scored with 65, continued to thwart the bowling attack as New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson kept the Indian batsmen guessing by juggling his pace and spin options.
His move paid off when medium-pacer Neil Wagner claimed Indian skipper Virat Kohli’s scalp, caught at long-leg for nine after pulling at a bouncer.
New Zealand’s leg-spinner Ish Sodhi also played a key role, claiming the wicket of Vijay, who had notched up his 13th Test fifty, just before the tea break.
Mark Craig joined forces with fellow spinners to get Ajinkya Rahane, who scored 18, trudging back to the pavilion early in the final session of play.
Rohit Sharma and Ravichandran Ashwin did put together a 52-run partnership for the sixth wicket but their departure once again saw India lose their way.
Santner, who was given the second new ball along with Boult in the 81st over, struck soon to get the wicket of Rohit Sharma for 35.
Sharma, who had survived a strong lbw appeal against Craig earlier in his innings, played a mistimed shot to mid-on.
Ashwin scored a well-made 40 with the help of seven boundaries before falling to Boult.
India, who took tea at 185 for four, lost five wickets in the final session of play after managing 106 runs in 31 overs.
Earlier Rahul’s 39-ball 32 entertained the raucous home crowd at Kanpur’s Green Park.
A host of former Indian Test captains including Sachin Tendulkar, Kapil Dev and Mahendra Singh Dhoni are among those in the crowd to celebrate the milestone match.
India 291-9 (Vijay 65, Pujara 62; Boult 3/57, Santner 3/77)
Feature image source: PTI