Kolkata: New Zealand bowlers put up a solid show as they restricted India to 239/7 on day one of the second Test at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata on Friday.
Electing to bat, India failed to get going as Shikhar Dhawan, who was brought in to replace injured KL Rahul and ahead of in-form Gautam Gambhir, could score only a run in his 10-ball stay in the middle.
His opening partner and perhaps, India’s most consistent performer in Test circuit over the last two years, Murali Vijay could only score nine runs. Virat Kohli, who failed to score big in the first Test, did not do much as India lost him when the score had not crossed 50-run mark.
While Matt Henry, who was playing his first Test on Indian soil, removed the Indian openers, Trent Boult dismissed Kohli.
Cheteshwar Pujara, whose strike rate had generated a huge discussion, once again came to India’s rescue. The right-hander, who scored heavily in the Duleep Trophy and had twin fifties in the Kanpur Test, was joined by Ajinkya Rahane as the duo rebuilt the Indian innings with a 141-run stand.
However, Pujara’s solid knock came to an end as Martin Guptill caught him off Neil Wagner’s bowling. Rohit Sharma, who replaced Pujara in the middle, and Ajinkya Rahane followed him soon after as Jeetan Patel struck twice in a space of two overs.
Ravichandran Ashwin once again came out all guns blazing as he zoomed to 26 in no time. However, Henry came to New Zealand’s rescue as he trapped the ace Indian spinner before the wickets.
Wicketkeeper-batsman Wriddhiman Saha added some quick runs before umpired called off day’s play citing poor light.
Earlier, Virat Kohli had won the toss and elected to bat.
While New Zealand missed out on the services services of their talismanic batsman Kane Williamson, India had made two changes to their side from the Kanpur Test. Shikhar Dhawan replaced injured KL Rahul and Bhuvneshwar Kumar came in place of Umesh Yadav.
Dhawan's inclusion meant that Gautam Gambhir, who was recalled to the side after two years as KL Rahul was ruled out of the series with an injury he sustained in the first Test in Kanpur, had to wait a bit longer to make the cut to India's playing XI.
IND XI: M Vijay, S Dhawan, C Pujara, V Kohli, A Rahane, RG Sharma, R Ashwin, W Saha, R Jadeja, B Kumar, M Shami— BCCI (@BCCI) September 30, 2016
New Zealand, who are led by Ross Taylor in the absence of Williamson, made three changes to their team. Matt Henry, Henry Nicholls and Jeetan Patel replaced Ish Sodhi, Kane Williamson and Mark Craig in the team.
NZ XI: T Latham, M Guptill, H Nicholls, R Taylor, L Ronchi, M Santner, BJ Watling, J Patel, N Wagner, M Henry, T Boult— BCCI (@BCCI) September 30, 2016
While the Kane Williamson-led side played a fine brand of cricket on the first few days of the Test. India managed to dig in and win in India’s 500th Test.
Although it won’t be an easy task for Virat Kohli and Co. at the iconic Kolkata venue which is hosting India’s 250th home Test, the chance to reclaim the no.1 spot in Test rankings will be, in addition to a series win, an added incentive for Team India.
While India will once again hope that R Ashwin, despite a swollen finger, and Ravindra Jadeja would trouble the Kiwis, with Eden wicket is said to have a bit of a grass, pacers will like to add more wickets to their account than what they did in Kanpur.