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By Abhijit Banare
Feb 7, 2014
Trent Boult and Tim Southee have put India in trouble at tea on Day Two of the first Test at Auckland. India are on 45 for three trailing New Zealand by 458 runs. Murali Vijay and Rohit Sharma are scripting a recovery and have added 35 runs for the fourth wicket.
A short of good length delivery and one delivery pitched full and wide was all it took for New Zealand to put India on the mat. All of a sudden, the Eden Park pitch which had eased up for batting looked like a dangerous wicket with Boult and Southee crushing the batsmen’s confidence by going past the edge frequently.
In reply to New Zealand’s mammoth 503, the Indians lost Shikhar Dhawan, Cheteshwar Pujara and Virat Kohli in quick succession. The sun had come out for the first time while the Indians came out to bat in an otherwise cloudy day. 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 but got a leading edge flying straight to Kane Williamson at gully. The big wicket came three balls later when Pujara threw his bat at a harmless delivery pitched full and wide and was caught by the keeper; both the batsmen gone for a duck.
If that wasn’t enough, Tim Southee inflicted further damage with a short ball seeing the back of Kohli for four. The difference between the Indian and New Zealand pacers was clearly visible with the latter keeping the ball consistently full and getting it to move on a regular basis. It was a remarkable first 10 overs which saw three big names back in the hut.
The nervousness on Rohit Sharma’s face was visible as he walked up to bat. And Southee went past his bat on the first delivery to add to the pressure. Vijay and Rohit somehow survived the new ball and occasionally presented their glorious touch with neatly timed cover drives and wristwork. But New Zealand always looked like picking a wicket. Even Corey Anderson troubled the batsmen. Skipper Brendon McCullum might have missed a trick by keeping up the pressure by continuing with the pacers, instead he chose to bring on leg-spinner Ish Sodhi against batsmen adept facing spin. Sodhi surprised the batsmen by getting the ball to turn and bounce.
India can only pick some clues from the New Zealand batting who were in a similar situation on the first day, down three for thirty before that remarkable 221-run partnership between Kane Williamson (113) and Brendon McCullum (224). The difference was, the Kiwis were batting under an overcast sky and a green wicket whereas the Indians came in to bat just after a fine innings by the New Zealand skipper McCullum. Going after the bowlers on the second morning, his 224 helped New Zealand go past 500 in the second session.
Rohit (16 not out) and Vijay (22 not out) have a task at hand to stitch a partnership and stage a recovery as India yet again find themselves in deep trouble in the series.
New Zealand 503 (Kane Williamson 113, Brendon McCullum 224, Corey Anderson 77; Ishant Sharma 6 for 134, Zaheer Khan 2 for 132) lead India 45 for 3 (Murali Vijay 22*, Rohit Sharma 16*; Trent Boult 2 for 13, Tim Southee 1 for 11) by 458 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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