Cricket's annals will show a mundane scorecard after the opening day of the second test between India and New Zealand in Kolkata.

India reached 239 for seven at stumps. Oh yeah, so-so.

The reality is the Black Caps delivered a performance of commitment and discipline in oppressive conditions which many of them will have seldom struck in their careers... and all without their fever-stricken captain Kane Williamson.

It was Attrition Central.

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With temperatures in the low 30s and humidity threatening 80 per cent the atmosphere was cloying. The visitors' faith in their fitness and nutrition needed to be resolute especially after the Indian 12th man, Sapping Heat, made a cameo in the middle session.

Next to strapping intravenous drips to their backs, there was no way of avoiding the furnace and subsequent dehydration that needled away at concentration levels as New Zealand hunted wickets.

To add to the challenge, Cheteshwar Pujara (87) and Ajinkya Rahane (77) added 141 for the fourth wicket which included a fruitless middle session for the visitors.

There was one chance, in the 51st over, when Rahane miscued Jeetan Patel wide of mid-on and substitute fielder Doug Bracewell failed to secure the catch running back. Mitchell Santner also had a decent lbw shout against Pujara in the 55th over.

However, with Pujara's dismissal, driving Neil Wagner on the up to Martin Guptill at short cover, the New Zealanders fought back with four wickets for 52 as part of the day's denouement.

Patel also contributed to the action in his first test since January 2013. He got extra bounce to dismiss Rohit Sharma, with Tom Latham seizing the catch under the lid at short leg, a plan which formed part of practice yesterday. The 36-year-old off spinner followed by trapping Rahane lbw.

New Zealand delivered arguably their best session to start, reducing the hosts to 57-3 after Indian captain Virat Kohli won the toss.

Matt Henry led the way in his fifth test, and first since playing Australia at Christchurch in February. He was recalled in place of Ish Sodhi, on the promise the wicket would provide extra bounce and carry as opposed to traditional spin. He finished as the best of the bowlers with three wickets for 35 from 15 overs.

"We knew we had to control the run rate, because it's tough in these conditions to take wickets," Henry said. "We needed to create pressure via dots, and that manifested into taking more wickets at the end of the day."

"We also knew it was important to make them play. If we were going to miss, it was better to miss full and get them driving.

"They batted well and were composed through that middle period. It was really hot, which tested us mentally and physically."

Cricket correspondent Andrew Alderson reviews the opening day's play of the second cricket test at Eden Gardens.

Henry relished his chance with the new ball, dismissing openers Shikhar Dhawan and Murali Vijay in an opening spell of 6-2-14-2. He was uncompromising on line and length.

Dhawan, returning in place of the injured Lokesh Rahul, was lured into a cut shot outside off stump and played on. Vijay nibbled at a ball seaming away, and feathered an edge to B-J Watling.

Trent Boult followed with the dismissal of Kohli, who lashed at a ball pitched about two sets of stumps outside off. Latham grabbed a searing chance at gully.

The rewards were deserved for both opening bowlers who were unrelenting with their pace and aggression. Pressure built from both ends, even when Wagner, Mitchell Santner and Patel were introduced.

Pujara was largely untroubled throughout. He continued the form which brought him 62 and 78 in Kanpur. One off-drive from Henry even had the press box applauding.

The start to the match was overshadowed by Williamson's omission due to illness.

His condition was described as "dehydrated" and he was rushed into quarantine. The world's No.2 test batsman did not train with the side at the final practice.

Ross Taylor returned to captain the side which, despite the unfortunate circumstances, marked an extraordinary turnaround from the scenes of December 2012 when he was ousted from the job.

He looked composed and his bowlers responded when he set attacking fields throughout. Henry Nicholls will bat at No.3 in Williamson's absence.

The test is New Zealand's first at Kolkata in 51 years after earning draws in 1955 and 1965. Any prospect of victory would be hard earned at a ground which the hosts have turned into a fortress this century.

India have won six and drawn two of their nine tests at the venue since 2001, when the John Wright-coached side delivered a miraculous comeback from a follow-on to beat Australia.

If India win the match, they return to No.1 in the test rankings.