HYDERABAD: The greatest challenge for the New Zealanders was how they would cope with the spin threat. Replying to a mountain called 438, it was clear that the Kiwis' hopes of saving the game depended on the strategy they would employ against the spinners. Woefully short of confidence after the drubbing they received at the hands of the West Indians recently, the Kiwi batsmen were vulnerable and Indian skipper MS Dhoni was quick to pounce on the opportunity.
India vs Newzealand 1st at Hyderabad
The move to bring in the tweakers early on paid off as the Kiwis had no answer to the Indian spinners, who exploited the turn and bounce that the wicket offered, and were reduced to 106 for five by close of play on the second day of the first Test at the RGIC Stadium, here on Friday. After seven overs, Dhoni threw the ball to local lad Pragyan Ojha
and the left-arm spinner didn't disappoint his skipper or the sparse crowd. It took him only three balls to break the opening stand as he flighted a delivery which Brendon McCullum
(22; 27balls, 3x4) tried to loft over the covers but hit it straight into Virat Kohli
Two overs later, Dhoni turned to R Ashwin and the off-spinner got rid of Martin Guptill
(2) by having him caught at backward short leg by Kohli. Skipper Ross Taylor
(2) failed to last long as he was brilliantly snapped up by Kohli at the same position. At 55 for four, James Franklin
(31 no; 75b, 1x4,1x6) joined Kane Williamson
(32; 92b, 3x4) and the duo held on grimly for 68 minutes before the latter edged an Ojha delivery into Virender Sehwag
's hands at slip to put the Kiwis on the back foot again.
They had added 44 for the fifth-wicket but more importantly ensured that the visitors were not bowled out by the end of the day's play. But they are still 332 runs behind and need another 133 to avoid the follow-on .
It turned out to be a cat and mouse game in the pre-lunch session -- the start of which was delayed by 26 minutes due to the rain threat. Both teams adopted the wait and watch policy as neither of the sides seemed keen on taking the attack to the rival camp. The Indian batsmen, quite understandably, were a bit weary to attack as the overcast conditions were helping the New Zealand seamers move the ball a bit more than on Thursday. But what was surprising was that the Kiwis too failed to take advantage of the conditions. Thus the first session yielded 64 runs off 21 overs but more importantly from the Indian perspective, they hadn't lost a wicket.
The stalemate finally ended after 126 minutes of play - 32 minutes after lunch - when Pujara tried to go on the offensive and lost his wicket to Jeetan Patel
. R Ashwin seemed intent on changing the pattern of play. The Tamil Nadu lad went on the offensive as he struck three fours off nine balls as he raced to 16 but the loss of skipper Dhoni stemmed the tide.
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