BlackCaps batsmen falter on day two
Fri, 24 Aug 2012 11:43p.m.
By C. Rajshekhar Rao
Off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin grabbed 3-30 as India took charge of the first test by reducing New Zealand to 106-5 at close on the second day after scoring 438 in its first innings.
Ashwin was supported well by left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha (2-35) as New Zealand struggled to come to terms with the pitch at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium.
At stumps, James Franklin (31) and Kruger van Wyk (0) were not out, with New Zealand still 133 runs short of avoiding the follow-on.
Ashwin justified Mahendra Singh Dhoni's decision to use the slow bowlers early to put pressure on New Zealand after Cheteshwar Pujara (159) and Dhoni (73) gave India a formidable score.
Both Ashwin and Ojha struck in their first overs to give New Zealand a taste of what to expect in the two-test series.
Ojha broke through with his third delivery to remove an aggressive Brendon McCullum (22) in the eighth over. Ashwin claimed co-opener Martin Guptill (2) with his very first delivery, caught at backward short leg by Virat Kohli.
Ashwin also had captain Ross Taylor (2) caught by Kohli in the same position, a decision arrived at with the help of the television umpire.
Ashwin then trapped Daniel Flynn (16) leg before wicket for his third wicket to reduce the visitors to 55-4.
After Ashwin had done most of the damage in his first five overs – when his figures read 3-6 - Ojha came on to remove a defiant Kane Williamson, who faced 92 balls for his 32 runs.
"(We) bowled well and stuck to our guns," Ashwin says. "As the ball got older it was slowing up, so we have to be patient tomorrow."
Earlier, Pujara and Dhoni resumed on 307-5, adding 80 to take the sixth-wicket partnership to 127.
Pujara struck 19 fours and a six, while Dhoni smashed six fours and a six before both fell to offspinner Jeetan Patel while trying to increase the scoring rate.
Patel was the most successful bowler with 4-100. He also removed Ashwin, who made a useful 37 down the order.
Pujara, brought in to replace retired batting great Rahul Dravid, saw off a probing line from pace bowlers Chris Martin and Trent Boult in overcast conditions with play starting almost 30 minutes late due to bad weather, forcing floodlights to be used.
It took until the ninth over for the first boundary, from Dhoni, but the two batsmen easily got through the first session with 64 runs scored.
Pujara was dismissed when he hit out at Patel but failed to clear Franklin, who took a well-judged catch running backwards from mid-on. Dhoni fell trying an expansive drive that was taken well by Doug Bracewell at mid-off.
Ashwin was soon stumped by wicketkeeper Van Wyk to give Patel his fourth wicket before tea.
"Obviously getting a four-for is nice but I will have to get more than that to get us over the line," Patel says. "The pitch is starting to take some more turn than you'd expect."
The Indian team is in a rebuilding process after the retirements of batsmen V.V.S. Laxman and Dravid, both of whom quit recently after being blamed for a string of eight losses in England and Australia last season that dropped India from No.1 in the test ranking to its current fifth.
This series is seen in India as preparation for challenging tours by England and Australia later this season.
The second and final test of the series is in Bangalore from Aug. 31. The tests will be followed by two Twenty20 games.
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