Cricket: NZ seamers lay the platform

By Kris Shannon of APNZ in Bangalore

The Black Caps' seam attack showed glimpses of promise, with Trent Boult's three wickets highlighting an industrious effort on an unforgiving pitch for pace. Photo / Getty Images.
The Black Caps' seam attack showed glimpses of promise, with Trent Boult's three wickets highlighting an industrious effort on an unforgiving pitch for pace. Photo / Getty Images.

New Zealand's test series against India has so far been an exposition of their strengths and weaknesses.

The bane of the batting line-up was laid bare and beaten into submission in the first match in Hyderabad, when the hosts' spinners took 18 of 20 wickets to fall.

And the batsmen's spin struggles could have again proved their undoing on the first day of the second test in Bangalore, were it not for innings of real quality from Martin Guptill, Kruger van Wyk and, in particular, Ross Taylor.

Today, for the first time all series, the most proficient part of tourists' test team was allowed to flourish - and did just that to provide New Zealand with a real chance of claiming their first victory in India in 24 years.

With a healthy 365 runs to play with, the tourists' bowlers immediately set about their work and had India in trouble, before Suresh Raina (51) and Virat Kohli (33) resurrected the home side's innings and progressed to 168-4 at tea.

The Black Caps' seam attack showed glimpses of promise in the embarrassing opening to the tour, with Trent Boult's three wickets highlighting an industrious effort on an unforgiving pitch for pace.

But, with clouds in the sky and a little grass on the wicket, M Chinnaswamy Stadium has given the strength of this team a real opportunity to show their wares.

After New Zealand's lower order were able to add only 37 runs to their overnight tally, Tim Southee and Trent Boult opened the bowling with more fire and brimstone than the home side's pacemen have shown all series.

Boult beat Gautam Gambhir's bat in the first over to set the tone, then Tim Southee came agonisingly close to removing Virender Sehwag with his first ball. Southee and his fielders were convinced he had trapped Sehwag in front, and replays appeared to agree, but umpire Steve Davis didn't, with height the only possible exoneration.

The Northern Districts pair appeared to be bringing the best out of each other, and Boult would have removed Gambhir in his second over but for Brendon McCullum's mishap at second slip.

No matter, Southee bowled the opener the very next over to earn the breakthrough the tourists deserved.

In addition to his typical swing and late movement of the ball, Boult was consistently bowling in excess of 140km/h and even topped out at 145km/h - a newfound pace that makes the 23-year-old even more venomous with the new ball.

Southee soon removed Cheteshwar Pujara, India's batting hero in Hyderabad, to justify his selection ahead of veteran Chris Martin in his first spell with the ball.

The third member of the young triumvirate, Doug Bracewell, then came into the attack to chip in with a brace of wickets. After Boult snuck one through Sachin Tendulkar's gate in the first test, Bracewell repeated the dose to again disrupt the Little Master's stumps, before picking up Sehwag to reduce India to 80-4.

With the trio all in their early twenties and with even younger prospects like Adam Milne and Bevan Small waiting in the wings, to say the future is bright for New Zealand's seam bowling stocks would be an understatement.

And that's not even mentioning 26-year-old Neil Wagner, the ex-pat South African who has been the best bowler in domestic cricket for the last couple of seasons but has been unable to break through the young brigade and into the test team.

The unlucky loser from such a glut of resources is Martin, the senior citizen of this group. He was dropped for the second test, the second time in three matches he has been demoted, and the end appears nigh for the 37-year-old who ranks third on New Zealand's test wicket ranks.

Martin has been a great servant to this country over the last dozen years, but the future is now.

- APNZ

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