Cricket: Black Caps bowlers make breakthrough

By David Leggat

Neil Wagner appeals unsuccessful for a wicket during the opening session of the first test. Photo /
Neil Wagner appeals unsuccessful for a wicket during the opening session of the first test. Photo /

Three wickets in the hour before tea put a spring in New Zealand's step on the opening day of the first test against India in Kanpur.

At the time of the triple breakthrough, India were well set at 154 for one, with opener Murali Vijay and in-form Cheteshwar Pujara both having passed half centuries and looking solid.

Then Pujara chipped a return catch back to left arm spinner Mitchell Santner on 62 and four overs later India's captain Virat Kohli casually top edged a hook off bustling left armer Neil Wagner to be caught at fine leg for nine.

Seven overs later, Vijay shaped to cut legspinner Ish Sodhi and gave wicketkeeper BJ Watling his second catch of the innings.

Ajinka Rahane had an escape on one when an inside edge off the impressive Santner flew just past his leg stump.

At tea, India were wobbling at 185 for four off 59 overs, with Rahane on 12 and Rohit Sharma yet to score.

The morning had belonged to India and at 105 for one, New Zealand were staring at an uphill climb.

The afternoon, which produced three for 80, put a smile back on New Zealand faces.

Pujara had batted beautifully and looked to have an eighth century within his grasp. Judging by his mortified reaction, he knew it too.

Vijay was more circumspect and did a solid job for his team before his dismissal after 170 balls over his 65.

His work behind point and down the ground had been impressive and he was prepared to bide his time for an opening.

Santner's fellow spinners, Mark Craig and Sodhi, had been too up and down with their line and length and Trent Boult was blowing hot and cold, although he would reflect that had his captain put a first slip in for the opening over of the second session, he would likely have had Vijay out for 39.

Kane Williamson's field settings were intriguing. He was happy to have just a third slip and gully as two catchers behind the wicket, spreading his resources to cover a large area.

New Zealand brought reserve wicketkeeper Luke Ronchi into their XI for his second test - his first, at Leeds last year, produced an 88, 31 double.

Santner had figures of two for 60 off 15 overs, which is slightly misleading, Wagner had one for 34 off 13 and Sodhi had taken one for 27 off 11.

- NZ Herald

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