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By Shrikant Shankar
Feb 14, 2014
India are at 100 for two at stumps on Day One of the second Test against New Zealand in Wellington on February 14, 2014. Shikhar Dhawan is batting on 71 and nightwatchman Ishant Sharma is on three. India trail New Zealand by 92 runs.
Tim Southee got the first breakthrough as he dismissed Murali Vijay for two in the second over itself. He pitched one on a back of a length and the ball came back in sharply. Vijay left the ball alone, but it touched the gloves on its way to wicketkeeper BJ Watling.
The ball was zipping around as conditions still favoured the swing bowlers. In Trent Boult and Southee, New Zealand had two bowlers who could do the same. In fact, New Zealand went into the match with five seamers. Neil Wagner, James Neesham and Corey Anderson were the others.
Cheteshwar Pujara came in at No 3 and was intent on just consuming overs and time. He used minimal back-lift with his shots to counter the swinging deliveries. Dhawan tried playing with a straight bat as far as possible.
After negating the movement, the duo started to score runs a little bit quicker. Dhawan had pushed one through the covers for a four early on. His second four was a slap over mid-off. Wagner’s first delivery found the outside edge off Dhawan’s bat and went through the slip cordon for a four.
Pujara played a back of a length delivery through fine-leg for a four. The running between the wickets was not up to the mark. On one occasion, Pujara reached out and drove a full delivery through the covers. Dhawan was keen on three runs and ran hard, but Pujara was merely jogging and the batsmen ran only two in the end.
As the batsmen seemed more and more comfortable, Wagner changed his strategy and came from round the wicket. Dhawan slapped one in-between point and cover for a four. The next delivery was a short ball from Wagner and Dhawan pulled it towards fine-leg for another four.
Pujara drove one from Wagner down the ground for a four. Anderson then came into the attack and he almost got Dhawan out at point. Dhawan’s uppish drive went just wide of the fielder for a four. Dhawan then struck two fours in-a-row to get to his half-century off only 71 deliveries.
Wagner bowled one short and Dhawan executed a delightful upper cut that sailed over the third-man region for a six. Just as Dhawan was getting the runs at a canter, Brendon McCullum brought back Trent Boult. He immediately struck as he dismissed Pujara LBW for 19 with an in-swinger.
Dhawan though continued with Ishant and ended the day on 71. Ishant he is batting on three.
Earlier, 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.
Ishant Sharma was the star for India with the ball as he picked up six wickets. He finished with figures of six for 51, which are now currently his best in Test cricket. This was also his fifth five-wicket haul in the longest format of the game. He had taken a six-wicket haul in the first Test in Auckland as well.
New Zealand were bowled out for 192 just after tea on Day One. Kane Williamson top-scored for New Zealand with 47 runs off 100 deliveries. Williamson survived two dismissals as Zaheer Khan and Ishant bowled no-balls to him on wicket-taking deliveries. Williamson hit six fours.
Debutant James Neesham scored 33 off 35 deliveries and Tim Southee scored 32 off 32 deliveries. Neesham struck seven fours while Southee smashed one four and three sixes.
New Zealand 192 (Kane Williamson 47, James Neesham 33, Tim Southee 32; Ishant Sharma 6 for 51, Mohammed Shami 4 for 70) lead India 100 for 2 (Shikhar Dhawan 71*; Trent Boult 1 for 18) by 92 runs.
(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)
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