India frittered away a solid start as a middle-order collapse saw them reduced to 291 for 9, despite half-centuries from Murali Vijay and Cheteshwar Pujara on the opening day of the first cricket Test against New Zealand, here on Thursday.
After electing to bat first in the historic 500th Test, India were comfortably placed at 154 for 1 riding on 112-run second wicket stand between Vijay (65) and Pujara (62).
However, a disciplined bowling effort complemented by some inept shot selection by middle and lower order saw four wickets for 16 runs after the second new ball was taken.
Rohit Sharma (35) once again got a start only to throw it away at the fag end of the day.
Ravichandran Ashwin was well set before being dismissed to a brilliant delivery from Trent Boult.
While left-arm spinner Mitchell Santner (3/77) rocked the top-order, it was Boult, who looked menacing with the second new ball finishing with figures of 3/57 in 17 overs. All his wickets were during the last 10 overs of the day.
Ravindra Jadeja was batting on 11 at the end of the day with Umesh Yadav (8).
The Green Park track was not a rank turner on the first day itself but it did offer some assistance to the spinners. The Kiwis fielded three spinners Santner, offie Mark Craig and leg-break bowler Ish Sodhi, who bowled 59 out of the 90 overs.
Owing to solid innings from Vijay and Pujara, India were comfortably set at 154 for 1 after losing KL Rahul (32) but they eventually lost four wickets in gap of 15 overs, spread over two sessions to get into the back-foot.
Rohit (35) and Ashwin (40) combined for a fighting 52 run stand for the sixth wicket.
In an important phase in his Test career, Rohit was expected to fire and he showed some early promise before trying to chip one off Santner over mid-on but was holed out by Sodhi.
Boult, in his final spell of the day, got rid of Ashwin, wicket-keeper Wriddhiman Saha (0) and Mohammed Shami (0) nearly polishing off the Indian tail.
Wriddhiman and Shami got identical deliveries that jagged back in from three quarter length breaching their defence. Ashwin got one that was full and kicked up from good length as he gloved it to Ross Taylor at wide second slip.
The Indian captain lasted only 10 balls. Wagner banged one short, which Kohli miscued a pull
and found out Sodhi, who was specifically kept for that shot. Vijay was patient in his approach and
helped himself with four shots the fence while Pujara was swift and scored at a decent pace, hitting five boundaries.
Earlier, Rahul made a cracking start, hitting two crisp boundaries off paceman Boult in the very first over.
Kiwi skipper introduced Santner in the eighth over and continued with Wagner from one end. Rahul swept the left-arm spinner for a six but the Kiwi bowler exacted his revenge by having the young Indian batsmen caught behind in the next over.
Santner posed questions for the Indian batsmen, who handled Craig comparatively easily. Both the spinners tried to lift the ball but it being a first-day pitch, there was not much purchase from it.
Test captains felicitated before 500th Test start
Former captains including Sachin Tendulkar, Sunil Gavaskar, MS Dhoni <div style="display: inline !important;">and Kapil Dev were, on Thursday, felicitated by the BCCI before the start of India’s 500th Test here.
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On the occasion, Uttar Pradesh governor presented mementos and shawl to former captains before the start of the first Test between India and New Zealand.
Besides Tendulkar, Gavaskar, Dhoni and Kapil, the other former India Test captains who were honoured were Ajit Wadekar, Ravi Shastri, Dilip Vengsarkar, Sourav Ganguly, Anil Kumble, K Srikkanth and Mohammad Azharuddin. Current captain Virat Kohli too was honoured.
IPL chief Rajeev Shukla and BCCI president Anurag Thakur were part of the function.
A dinner was organised on Wednesday night in th<div style="display: inline !important;">e honour of captains and it was also attended by the Indian team.
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Legendary Sachin Tendulkar lavished praise on the current team led by Virat Kohli as he feels that the core of the team will remain the same for the next decade and he is expecting India to dominate world cricket.
“We have a fabulous combination. The best part is that they are young and they will play for a while. I see this team playing together for 8-10 years and dominating world cricket,” Tendulkar said.
On 500th Test, the iconic batsman said: “Being part of history, I would like to believe, we have also been able to influence the next generation and leave some mark behind.”