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By Abhijit Banare
Feb 7, 2014
India managed to recover from 15 for three to reach 130 for four when bad light forced the umpire’s to call off play early on Day Two of the second Test at Eden Park, Auckland on Friday. Rohit Sharma is unbeaten on 67 and has stitched a 79-run stand with Ajinkya Rahane (23 not out).
New Zealand started the day at a healthy position and ended with a much more firm grip over the game having India four down with 173 more runs to avoid the follow-on. After a long day on the field, the fatigue seemed to have caught up with batsmen playing some needless shots leading to their downfall. Yet the Kiwi pacers were consistent with their line and length of attack which the Indians failed to maintain.
In reply to New Zealand’s mammoth 503, the India lost Shikhar Dhawan, Cheteshwar Pujara and Virat Kohli in quick succession. On the third ball of the innings, Boult delivered an excellent ball short of good length, coming in to Dhawan. The left-hander tried to close the face of the bat and work it on the leg side, but got a leading edge flying straight to Kane Williamson at gully and was out for a duck. The big wicket came three balls later when Pujara (1) threw his bat at a harmless delivery pitched full and wide and was caught by the keeper.
Kohli was the next to fall for India. Tim Southee bowled a bouncer and Kohli tried to play at it with a straight bat. The ball touched the gloves and deflected off his helmet and Peter Fulton took a good catch in the slips. With 45 on board at tea and three wickets down, India were yet again in deep trouble, just like they have in all their previous matches on this tour.
Post tea, Murali Vijay was bowled by a brilliant incoming delivery by Neil Wagner. Using the width of the crease, Wagner got the ball to move in and drift a touch to go past the defense of Vijay, bowled for 26.
Rohit then staged a recovery with Rahane who is unbeaten on 23. The stylish Mumbai batsman survived initial nervousness and eased in to his strokes later to keep the runs flowing. He got to his maiden Test fifty away from home. Just when the duo looked settled, the umpires kept checking for light and instructed McCullum to use the slower bowlers. It was a perfect opportunity for the batsmen to pick some easy runs against the part time spin of Kane Williamson before play was halted due to bad light. The umpires eventually decided to call it a day with the match still tilted in New Zealand’s favour.
Earlier in the day, Corey Anderson missed out on a ton being dismissed for 77 but McCullum made it up with a brilliant double century at the stroke of lunch to lead New Zealand’s innings. With support from the lower order in the form of Southee (28) and Ish Sodhi (23), the hosts went past 500. India tried to keep their length fuller today, but failed to keep it consistent which allowed New Zealand to slip away from the pressure. Ishant Sharma was pick of the bowlers bagging six wickets.
The third morning will once again be test of character for Rohit and Rahane with pacers coming hard at them assisted by possible overcast conditions. The Kiwi pacers generated more swing in the air in comparison to their Indian counterparts. The touch in which Rohit is in, a big score is well on its way unless he puts on the self-destruction mode again.
New Zealand 503 (Kane Williamson 113, Brendon McCullum 224, Corey Anderson 77; Ishant Sharma 6 for 134, Zaheer Khan 2 for 132) lead India 130 for 4 (Murali Vijay 26, Rohit Sharma 67*; Trent Boult 2 for 20, Tim Southee 1 for 27) by 373 runs.
(Abhijit Banare is a reporter at CricketCountry. He is an avid quizzer and loves to analyse and dig out interesting facts which allows him to learn something new every day. Apart from cricket he also likes to keep a sharp eye on Indian politics, and can be followed on Twitter and blog)
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