23.9.16

No-frills Kiwis turn the tables on careless India

DRAWING FIRST BLOOD: Mitchell Santner gave New Zealand the breakthrough when he had Indian opener K.L. Rahul caught behind by B.J. Watling at the Green Park on Thursday. Photo: V.V. Krishnan

Among the corrective measures Indian cricket can explore is one that pertains to repeat offenders like Rohit Sharma.
The Mumbai batsman’s lazy elegance only spelt his doom and negated the flourish that marked the opening partnership of the Indian innings after Virat Kohli opted to bat at the Green Park Stadium here on Thursday.
At the end of an intense day of cricket, India was placed at 291 for nine with Ravindra Jadeja and Umesh Yadav occupying the crease on the first day of the first Test.
Perseverance

The New Zealand bowlers, with few frills attached to their work, were rewarded for discipline and perseverance on a pitch that demanded precisely that.
The second new ball made more dents than the first. Beginning with Rohit’s fall to a casual shot, the Indian batting succumbed to Trent Boult and Mitchell Santner, the two left-armers who repeatedly hustled the batsmen.
Santner in fact removed Rohit with the ball gleaming in his grip, not even three overs old.
Five wickets fell in the last session and just one in the first as the teams came to grips with the conditions. The bounce was true but not kicking enough to unnerve the batsmen.
Kohli paid for his daring instinct to attack the ball which climbed on him and left the spectators disappointed.
He was the one they wanted to watch the most but they were treated by the artistic M. Vijay, who once again demonstrated he is the batsman best suited for this format of the game.
India had its strong moments at 154 for one when Vijay and Cheteshwar Pujara threatened to bat the entire day.
Pujara was totally at ease and even surprised everyone with his desire to play shots early in the innings.
He complemented the confident Vijay and the two gave New Zealand captain Kane Williamson plenty to worry about.
It changed in the afternoon following the departure of Pujara and Kohli in quick succession and Vijay too.
Vijay has never fallen short of grit and temperament. He loves to get on with the game and wasted little time today, finding gaps and the bowlers to thrive.
Pujara gained at the other end, also picking his bowlers, taking runs off Mark Craig with the use of feet and exploiting the crease to smack leg-spinner Ish Sodhi.
The splendid form he showed in the recent Duleep Trophy was evident in his urgency to make the most of it.
It was Vijay who stood out. His defence helped him ward off the initial threat.
He brings alive the old school batting technique with the ball dropping dead at his feet when defending and racing delightfully to the boundary whenever he decided to go ahead with his strokemaking.
New Zealand looked to snare Vijay but landed the wickets of Pujara and Kohli, both perishing to an avoidable haste to dominate.
Ajinkya Rahane, acknowledged for his skills against spinners, fell to Craig’s relentlessly tossed up deliveries, the ball taking the inside edge and nicely nestling in short-leg’s grasp. The five-bowler Kiwi attack ran into resistance from Rohit and R. Ashwin, the latter as good a batsman as any on display.
Indiscretion 

Rohit, however, refused to mend his ways and came up with an act of indiscretion that characterises his approach in the longer version of the game. Santner got him and Boult scalped the next three.
The extra batsman strategy helped India to some extent as the teams ended the day with honours shared — Santner and Boult the star performers for New Zealand with three wickets apiece.
The two captivating moments of the day belonged to Vijay and B-J. Watling.
An on-drive by Vijay off Santner was breathtaking, just as Watling’s catch to pack off Rahul.

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