India were trailing by 92 runs after Ishant Sharma sliced through the New Zealand lineup earlier in the day. Finishing with six for 51, Ishant put India in a commanding position on the first day at the Basin Reserve. MS Dhoni once again opted to field, gave his pace attack the opportunity to make use of the bowling friendly conditions and was duly rewarded for his decision. Complemented by Mohammed Shami (4 for 70), Ishant helped bowl NZ out for 192 in the first innings.
In reply India were 100 for two with Shikhar Dhawan batting on 71* and night-watchman Ishant on three at the other end at close of day’s play.
Earlier, coming in as first change, Ishant claimed three quick wickets to reduce NZ to 26 for three from 23 without loss. The paceman first claimed Hamish Rutherford in what was a maiden over and followed up with another to dismiss Peter Fulton. Without a run added to the board, debutant Tom Latham was sent back for naught.
A short delivery brushed past Rutherford’s glove and was caught by Murali Vijay at first slip. A fuller delivery in the bowler’s next over nipped in and trapped Fulton plumb in front of the wicket. While Latham stayed at the crease for eight deliveries even doing well to leave a few, poked one from Ishant and offered a catch to Dhoni behind the stumps. Ishant’s figures till then read 4-2-3-3
19 runs later the New Zealand captain was the next to depart, hitting a half-volley from Mohammed Shami to mid-off. With Brendon McCullum back in the dressing room, Corey Anderson made his way to the middle. And had Zaheer Khan not over stepped, the hosts would have been five wickets down with the batting mainstay, Kane Williamson too back in the pavilion.
The Indian bowlers had bowled a tight line to keep the Kiwi batsman tied down and keep the home team to 51 for four at the end of the first session. Ishant who had been the NZ lineup’s wrecker-in-chief finished the session with 9-2-14-3.
Post lunch too it was Ishant who dealt another vital punch. Reintroduced into the attack, the pacer had the better of Corey Anderson who had earlier lofted him over long on and struck a boundary. The delivery took the inside edge and lobbed away to Virat Kohli at gully. BJ Watling who replaced him, too was sent back for a duck by the bowler. The ball took the edge of the bat’s shoulder and was caught by Rohit Sharma in the slips to give Ishant his fifth wicket.
Williamson would have been Ishant’s next scalp but once again it turned out to be a no-ball that gave the batsman a life. Cheteshwar Pujara had pulled off a brilliant catch diving to his right at short-leg. But India’s loss was NZ’s gain as Williamson survived once again.
At 86 for six, James Neesham joined Williamson in the middle. Having received a life at 15 and 23, Williamson continued to garner runs. In spite of the lapses that would have had the batsman back in the hut, he timed the ball beautifully on other occasions. Williamson’s straight drive off Ishant was a treat as he made his way to 47 before finally being sent back. A low catch to his left by Rohit moving forward in the slips off Shami saw the back of the top-order batsman.
Neesham then determinedly worked to add to the total with Tim Southee for company. The lower-order pair added 32 runs at a quick pace until Shami ended the flurry of runs. Neesham edged the ball to the wicketkeeper and walked back for 33.
With Neil Wagner still to open his account, Southee on 19, the home team were 166 for eight at tea.
Looking to add as many runs to the total as possible Southee and Wagner resumed their work in the final session of the day.
Southee smashed Ravindra Jadeja over long on for a six and slog swept the spinner later in the over. But his outburst didn’t last long. He departed for 32 offering catching practice to the Vijay and handing Ishant his sixth wicket. And Shami followed up with the wicket of Trent Boult to wrap-up the Blackcaps’ innings.
While India’s pacers and fielders put up one of their better performance the New Zealand lower-order’s cameos gave them a total to bowl at.
Boult then began the proceedings of India’s innings with a maiden and Southee followed up with wicket of Vijay in the second over of the innings. With Southee swinging the ball, it wasn’t easy in the middle for the Indian batsmen either.
The Shikhar Dhawan-Pujara pair grafted runs and with the odd boundary in between they toiled to negotiate the hosts attack. While the NZ pacers were relentless in their attack, Dhawan curbed his stroke-play to build the innings while Pujara displayed a watchful approach.
Having bided their time at the crease, the pair found the gaps and boundary more frequently as the innings progressed. Dhawan cut and pulled and soon brought up his fifty with a boundary. He hit Wagner for two boundaries and a six to collect 15 from the over. Pujara continued to play the supporting role and timed the ball well. However, while on 19, the No 3 batsman was trapped lbw by Boult.
With just a few overs of lay left, Ishant came out to the middle and struck Boult straight down the ground to take a couple of runs to open his account.
Having skittled out NZ early and losing just two wickets, India had dominated the first day. Debut: Tom Latham and Jimmy Neesham for New Zealand