Match poised trickily after visitors seize initiative
30th September 2016
The wicket of Eden Gardens has never disappointed the intense and the diligent. And today was no exception. At the end of day one of the second Test, India reached a laboured 239 for 7 against a fighting New Zealand who would return to their hotels thinking they have a sliver of a chance to come back in the series.
At stumps Wriddhiman Saha (14 with two boundaries and a six) and Ravindra Jadeja on 0, kept India on the hunt. India with a win in Kanpur are one up in the series.
The overnight moisture and healthy movement off the pitch meant New Zealand bowled with their tails up in the first session. Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane stemmed the rot with a healthy 141 run fourth wicket partnership in the middle. But New Zealand struck back in the last session with four more wickets to finish the day with the match poised trickily.
Seven wickets fell during the day and the Indian batters would share as much credit to their dismissal as the rival bowlers. Matt Henry and Trent Boult made the most of the overnight moisture bowling with imagination and pace to peg back the openers. Shikhar Dhawan's (1) poor form continued to hurt like a nail in an old shoe as he dragged the cherry from outside the off-stick to perish to Matt Henry. Murali Vijay (9) played inside the line of a rising off-cutter from the same bowler to give keeper B J Watling a dolly behind the stumps.
Virat Kohli arrived to lusty cheers from the a motley crowd. He began promisingly with a cover drive that raced to the boundary. However, he brought about his downfall chasing a ball outside the off-stick and giving an acrobatic catch to Tom Latham at gully. At three for 46 and Kohli back on 9, India were in trouble.
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At this point Cheteshwar Pujara (26) was joined by Ajinkya Rahane and suddenly the pitch looked sedate, the bowling easy and batting like catching butterfiles in a garden. The duo took India to 57 for three at lunch. The next session saw both the batsmen flourish playing rich drives, cut and pull with elegant ease. Pujara raced to his 50 of 141 balls and looked set to complete his century. Afyer tea, the Kiwis came back with a plan. Neil Wagner got a short mid-off in place as he gave the ball a little flight. Pujara walked straight into the trap and an uppish drive saw him return for 87.
Rahane (77), who looked well set disappointed, falling plumb to Jetan Patel, who also got Rohit Sharma, visibly shaken from a tumble he had taken a couple of deliveries before, for two caught at forward short leg to a casual flick.
Patel and Wagner bowled the last session with some bite and spin, something that the Indian spinners would closely watch. Ravichandran Ashwin and Wriddhiman Saha looked to be taking India home safely for the day, when Matt Henry struck returning Ashwin for a well accumulated 26 studded with 4 boundaries. Henry's last spell read 5 overs three maidens 8 runs and wicket. Patel finished with a good numbers too. His seven overs costing 30 runs and two wickets of which his last spell was the most fruitful.
When day begins tomorrow, it will be a game of chess of moves and counter moves both teams would try to take firm control over the Test.