Wellington, Feb 14: India ended day one of the second and final Test at 100 for two after dismissing New Zealand for 192 at the Basin Reserve here Friday.
Shikhar Dhawan (71 not out) and Cheteshwar Pujara (19) stitched an 87-run stand until Pujara was dismissed just before stumps, rounding off a good day for India after Mahendra Singh Dhoni asked the hosts to bat on a grassy pitch. Ishant Sharma (6/51) was the standout Indian bowler once again, taking his series tally to 15. Mohammed Shami bagged four wickets while Zaheer Khan failed to get any scalp despite bowing 17 overs.
India can now control the match, provided they bat well on a tricky surface.
Dhawan and Pujara should be commended for the way they tackled the New Zealand pacers who were expected to do more on a responsive deck. Dhawan, high on confidence after a hundred in the first Test, waited for the odd loose ball to score and still ended the day with 10 fours and a six. Pujara at the other end was as watchful as ever until he missed Trent Boult’s sharp inswinger. It could have been 89 for three the very next ball but night watchman Ishant was lucky that he offered his pads to a Boult inswinger that appeared to going over the top of stumps.
Earlier, the bowlers put India on top by dismissing the home team right after tea.
Ishant, often criticised for not finding the right length even on helping pitches, troubled the opposition batsmen the most by generating steep bounce off the wicket. He removed Hamish Rutherford (12) in the 10th over, the southpaw was unable to negotiate a rising short ball and nicked it to Murali Vijay at first slip.
The lanky Indian pacer trapped Peter Fulton (13) in front with a fuller delivery that came back off the seam, making it 26 for two.
Tom Latham, who replaced the injured Ross Taylor in the side, could only last eight balls. Ishant got one another one to seam away, finding the edge of the left-hander’s willow on way to the wicket-keeper. Skipper Brendon McCullum (8) came in the middle to join Kane Williamson. Just when a partnership was developing between the two in-form players, Shami had the dangerous McCullum caught at mid-off.
Drama occurred on the last ball before lunch with Zaheer Khan getting Williamson caught behind off what turned out to be a no-ball. New Zealand went into the break four down for 51. Williamson was given another life shortly after the break. He was caught at short leg off Ishant before the umpire confirmed that it happened on a no-ball.
Shami finally got rid of him with a full delivery that moved away just enough to carry safely into the slips, leaving the Black Caps at 133 for 7. Debutant Jimmy Neesham was the last batsmen to fall before tea. He perished after making a crucial 33 off 35 balls.
Tim Southee too provided entertainment towards the end of the innings, hitting three massive sixes to go with a boundary. New Zealand could only last 3.5 over post tea. IANS