Ajinkya Rahane’s unbeaten 38 was the saving grace amid a disappointing show from the other top-order batsmen as India struggled to reach 122 for 5 at tea on the first day of the opening Test against New Zealand on Friday (February 21).
The tourists had a hard time with wickets falling at regular intervals before the umpires carried out an inspection and decided to call-off the day’s play due to wet outfield.
Six feet 6 inches tall, 24-year-old seamer Kyle Jamieson (nicknamed Killa) had a dream debut picking up 3/38 in 14 overs as it was generally a struggle for the batsmen on a juicy first day track at the Basin Reserve.
Such was the disciplined effort from the Black Caps bowlers that India managed only 43 runs in the second session as Rahane played 122 balls, hitting four boundaries on a heavy outfield. Rishabh Pant was at the other end on 10 not out.
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Mayank Agarwal (34 off 84 balls), who did the hard work of surviving the first session, was out after lunch as he tried a pull shot off Trent Boult just after surviving a tough caught and bowled chance.
Hanuma Vihari (7) was Jamieson’s third victim as he edged a pitched up delivery to induce a nick.
Once Kane Williamson called the toss of coin right under overcast conditions, it was a challenge for the Indian batsmen.
Prithvi Shaw (16 off 18 balls), Cheteshwar Pujara (11 off 42 balls) and skipper Virat Kohli (2 off 7 balls) were back in the pavilion with debutant Jamieson keeping up the pressure after Tim Southee (1/27 in 14 overs) and Boult (1/44 in 14 overs) bowled a probing first spell.
Young Shaw clipped one off Boult and also hit an uppish square cut to get two quick boundaries. But his loose technique and propensity to close his bat face was always going to cost him dearly.
Southee bowled one that looked like angling in and Shaw closed the bat face as the ball moved a shade away after pitching, brushing his pad and then the off-stump. The batsman had a dazed look knowing that his technique was thoroughly exposed on a seamer-friendly track.
Pujara was ready to show a lot of patience as he started leaving deliveries outside the off-stump. However, Jamieson, coming in as the second change, bowled his back of length delivery on the off-middle channel. Pujara had no option but to jab at the rising delivery which kissed the outside edge of his bat and was taken by wicketkeeper BJ Watling.
A lot of hope were pinned on skipper Kohli but a smart ploy by Jamieson brought about the downfall of the Indian captain. Kohli was playing Jamieson for the disconcerting bounce that he generated from the back of the length but in between, he decided to slip one fuller delivery on the fourth stump channel.
Kohli lunged into the drive and the thickish edge was taken by the “100th Test man” Ross Taylor, standing at the first slip, to compound India’s troubles.
Taylor made history when he took the field in Welington and became the first player to play 100 matches in all three formats of the game.
The veteran was presented his 100th Test cap by former New Zealand wicketkeeper Ian Smith before the match.
“Really excited about the occasion. It’s very nice for the team and the family to experience something they might never do again,” he said.
“I’ll need some help drinking (the hundred bottles of wine), but they can be stored for a while. It keeps the tradition from Fleming, Brendon (McCullum) and Dan (Daniel Vettori) who all played over a hundred Tests each and hopefully we can celebrate this one with a win,” he added.
The 35-year-old played his 100th T20 International against India last month. He has also played 231 ODIs for New Zealand.
The right-handed batsman is already his country’s leading run-scorer in Test and ODI with 7174 and 8570 runs respectively to his name.
In T20 Internationals, he has scored 1909 runs and former captain Brendon McCullum (2140 from 71 matches) and opener Martin Guptill (2536 from 88 matches) are the only two Kiwi players above him on the list.
Taylor made his Test debut in 2007 and played his first ODI match a year earlier.
India 1st Innings: 122 for 5 in 55 overs (Ajinkya Rahane 38 batting, Mayank Agarwal 34, Rishabh Pant 10 batting; Kyle Jamieson 3/38).
(With inputs from agencies)