Ishant Sharma (centre) was the pick of the Indian bowlers taking three wickets © Getty Images
By Shrikant Shankar
Feb 14, 2014
Ishant Sharma rocked New Zealand with an incisive spell of fast bowling in the morning session of the second Test in Wellington on February 14, 2014. New Zealand are 51 for four at lunch on Day One at the Basin Reserve against India. Ishant picked up three wickets, while Mohammed Shami got one.
Kane Williamson is batting on 15 and Corey Anderson is on naught. Zaheer Khan could have made it five with the last ball before lunch, but he bowled a no-ball as Williamson edged one behind.
MS Dhoni had won the toss for the umpteenth time in the series and as expected he elected to bowl first. It was actually seven out of seven for Dhoni when it came to winning tosses in the tour. But unfortunately, India did not win any of those previous six matches.
India went in with an unchanged side that lost the first Test by 40 runs. New Zealand on the other hand had already announced their starting XI one day in advance. They made two changes from the first Test in Auckland.
New Zealand handed a debut to batsman Tom Latham in place of Ross Taylor, who is expecting the birth of his second child with his wife. Fast bowling all-rounder James Neesham came in for leg-spinner Ish Sodhi.
It was a slow but steady start for New Zealand with openers Peter Fulton and Hamish Rutherford looking comfortable out in the middle. There was swing from the very first ball that was bowled by Zaheer Khan to Fulton. The pitch had a lot of grass on it and that helped the bowlers early on.
Anything on a good length was causing issues for the batsmen, but the Indian bowlers did not bowl in that length quite often. Rutherford got some drives going when the ball was a bit too full. The left-handed batsman got one four towards covers and one through long-off.
There was also a bit of bounce and carry as Dhoni collected most of the deliveries around waist height. And it is that bounce that got India the first wicket. Ishant dug one in short and Rutherford (12) could only manage to glove it to Murali Vijay at first slip.
Ishant then struck quickly to dismiss Fulton for 13. The lanky fast bowler made one come into the tall Fulton, pitching it on a good length. Fulton pushed his front foot a bit forward and played across. He missed and the ball hit the pads. Umpire Steve Davis raised his finger almost immediately as the Indians appealed.
Debutant Latham lasted only eight deliveries as Ishant got his number as well. He pitched one on a back of a length and got it to move away from the left-handed Latham, who nicked it to Dhoni behind the wickets to get out for a duck. That was Ishant’s third wicket and New Zealand had their backs against wall at that time.
After that the runs came at a premium as Williamson and Brendon McCullum seemed to get into a shell. Apart from one glorious cover drive by McCullum off Zaheer that raced away for a four, there weren’t many expansive strokes.
The Indian seamers were probably just a little short in their lengths on most occasions. Mohammed Shami then bowled one full and McCullum (8) drove on the up and straight to Ravindra Jadeja at mid-off. The ball flew to Jadeja, who took the catch but seemed very surprised at that.
Shami then tested Anderson with some excellent piece of swing bowling. He made the ball move both ways and at quick speeds. Williamson broke the tension a bit with a crunching pull shot to a short delivery from Ishant that raced away for a four towards mid-wicket.
Zaheer missed his chance to get amongst the wickets by over-stepping and New Zealand entered lunch struggling at 51 for four after 26 overs.
New Zealand 51 for 4 (Kane Williamson 15*; Ishant Sharma 3 for 14, Mohammed Shami 1 for 17) vs India.
(Shrikant Shankar is a writer/reporter at CricketCountry.com. Previously he has done audio commentary for various matches involving India, Indian Premier League and Champions League Twenty20 for ESPNSTAR.com. You can follow him on Twitter @Shrikant_23)