India’s vaunted batting line-up failed to recover from the early blows dealt by New Zealand’s concerted bowling effort and wobbled to 239 for 7 on the opening day of the second cricket Test on Friday.
Barring Cheteshwar Pujara (87) and Ajinkya Rahane (77), none of the batsmen came good after skipper Virat Kohli opted to bat on the relaid pitch of the historic Eden Gardens stadium, hosting India’s 250th home Test.
Ravindra Jadeja (0) and Wriddhiman Saha (14) were holding fort for the home side when stumps were drawn at the end of the 87th over due to bad light.
The Kiwis, who were dealt a blow this morning when regular skipper and top batsman Kane Williamson was ruled out of match owing to illness, showed tremendous resilience to put up a fine first day show.
Medium-pacer Matt Henry was the Black Caps top wicket-taker with a haul of 3/35 in his miserly 15 overs, while off-spinner Jeetan Patel, brought into the side due to the injury-forced exit of Mark Craig, chipped in with two wickets.
India, who will regain the top spot in ICC rankings if they seal the three-match series in this match, did not make a very good start and lost their top-three batsmen even before the score had touched 50.
Pujara and Rahane’s dogged fourth-wicket stand of 141 was the high point for India on day one.
Fantastic day’s play. Strong comeback by NZ in last session. But India’s lopsided scorecard (only Pujara & Rahane getting 50s) tells a story— Cricketwallah (@cricketwallah) September 30, 2016
For the in-form Pujara, it was his third half-century from as many innings but a lapse in concentration ended his patient innings for 87 that came off 219 deliveries and was studded with 17 hits to the fence.
From being 46/3 in a jittery first session, Pujara and Rahane batted with grit and determination under the blazing afternoon heat and energy-sapping humidity.
The duo’s stand spanned three hours and nine minutes but the Kiwis made an impact in the final session snapping four wickets.
And what’s with Indian batsmen not getting to hundreds in this series… Thrice for Pujara, twice for Vijay and now Rahane too. #IndvNZ— Chetan Narula (@chetannarula) September 30, 2016
Pujara was set up brilliantly by left-arm pacer Neil Wagner, who put a short cover for him, and the Indian holed out to Martin Guptill.
However, it was not a good day at his favourite ground for Rohit Sharma (2), who was dismissed by Patel. The right-hander also looked to have hurt his left shoulder while attempting a single.
Replacing Lokesh Rahul, Shikhar Dhawan’s stint lasted just 10 balls with scorecard reading 1/1 in the second over. Vijay also perished to a beauty from the youngster playing only his fifth Test.
Continuing a rare lean patch, skipper Kohli (9) was steadying the ship with a set Pujara, but Trent Boult (1/33) dismissed the skipper.
Kohli got carried away after an exquisite cover drive that was cheered by the small turnout and went for an IPL-like shot chasing a ball way outside the off-stump to be caught brilliantly by Tom Latham.
The dismissal less than half an before the lunch break disturbed India’s recovery plan before Pujara and Rahane held firm in the second session.
Fewest Tests to do the double of 1500 runs and 200 wkts
38 R Ashwin41 I Botham44 R Hadlee45 Imran Khan#IndvNZ— Mohandas Menon (@mohanstatsman) September 30, 2016
Down the order, Ravichandran Ashwin played a useful knock of 26 that was laced with four hits to the boundary.