Brendon McCullum (left) remained unbeaten 143 while Kane Williamson smashed 113 © Getty Images
By Abhijit Banare
Feb 6, 2014
Centuries by Kane Williamson and Brendon McCullum helped New Zealand take control on Day One of the first Test against India at Auckland on Thursday. The Kiwis are on 329 for four with McCullum unbeaten on 143 and Corey Anderson on 43.
The overall plot of the day was all about India seizing control early in the match only to lose it to an in-form Williamson (113), who along with skipper McCullum changed the course of the innings. Williamson scored his fifth Test ton while McCullum scored his eighth Test ton.
With the green cover on the pitch and overcast conditions, both the captains were eager to bowl first. The toss, delayed by bad light and slight drizzle was won by MS Dhoni who chose the obvious. The Indian skipper has lost all the matches on the tour but is yet to lose a toss. The pacers weren’t effective in the first 10 overs, but they slowly started coming in to their elements. Soon, Zaheer Khan and Mohammed Shami built the pressure on the openers, Peter Fulton and Hamish Rutherford until Rutherford played a rash shot to Ishant Sharma who had replaced Zaheer in the 10th over. It was the lanky pacer’s 150th Test wicket.
There were much more delight in store with Zaheer’s persistence earning him the wicket of Fulton, caught in the slips and an over later, Ross Taylor squandered an opportunity to score big, playing an uppish shot through mid-off. At 30 for three, the Indians looked set to strangle the Kiwis, but Williamson’s timing and McCullum’s aggressiveness pushed India to the corner. The pair went in to lunch at 54 for three and after that came out with a much more positive intent. They scored at a brisk rate and added 125 runs in the second session.
With the sun out in the second session, and wicket not holding the same freshness, the pacers didn’t appear as threatening as they did at the start. Williamson with his exceptional timing then kept the score moving while McCullum got the boundaries at regular intervals. The duo were cruising along and completed their respective half-centuries. At tea, they had already put on 149 runs.
While the bowlers did well, they weren’t consistent to keep the Williamson-McCullum domination at bay. The duo got a free run towards the end of second session and after tea they accelerated. McCullum galloped in to his 90s with a couple of boundaries and got to his ton in style with a huge six over long-off. In comparison, his partner Williamson first got to his ton with a couple. There was no stopping the two as they kept piling runs.
The 221-run partnership was finally broken when Williamson tried to clip a leg-side delivery and ended up getting a faint edge, caught behind for 113.
Anderson survived the initial nervousness and settled in. Along with McCullum he shared an unbeaten partnership of 78 runs.
The Indians were well behind the over rate as play extended beyond scheduled close of play. The new ball after 80 overs too failed to yield any results barring a few hits and misses.
In the end, a dropped catch made all the difference for India. They could have minimised the damage done by Williamson. 150 runs were scored in the extended last session.
New Zealand 329 for 4 (Kane Williamson 113, Brendon McCullum 143*; Ishant Sharma 2 for 62, Zaheer Khan 2 for 98) vs India.
(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)