Niall Anderson provides five takeaways from day two of the first test between the Black Caps and India at the Basin Reserve.
A debut warning
The Black Caps are making a nice habit of having their debutants shine, the most recent being Kyle Jamieson's 4-39 – the 10th-best figures by a New Zealander on test debut. Out of the last 15 players to debut for New Zealand in tests, seven scored at least 45 in one innings, while another six took four or more wickets in their first test. Only Lockie Ferguson and Neil Broom missed out – but impressive debut performances meant little ultimately for the test careers of the likes of Matt Henry and Jeet Raval, while a glance at New Zealand's list of debut centurions this century includes the likes of Lou Vincent, Matthew Sinclair, Hamish Rutherford and Jimmy Neesham. The verdict on Jamieson will remain out for a few tests yet, despite the undoubtedly promising start.
An unexpected contribution
Ajaz Patel's selection in the Black Caps XI certainly wasn't to rip through the top order in the first innings on a green seamer, and sure enough, he only bowled three overs as the New Zealand quicks did the job. However, he produced a key contribution in the field, running out Rishabh Pant to start India's collapse. Not known as a gun fielder, Patel picked up the ball at point after Pant and Ajinkya Rahane got muddled mid-pitch, and had to decide between trying to hurl down the stumps side-on, or lob the ball to onrushing wicketkeeper BJ Watling. In the end, he tried for a bit of both, but clipped the bail as Watling dived in despair, sending Pant back to the pavilion. Patel's efforts were immediately followed by…
The ball of the day
Tim Southee showed two Indian batsmen the importance of proper footwork in the first innings. After Prithvi Shaw saw his poles disturbed after failing to move his feet, Ravichandran Ashwin was given the same lesson upon his first ball at the crease, getting a beautiful outswinger from Southee which moved from middle to off stump and skittled Ashwin's castle. Better footwork likely wouldn't have saved Ashwin anyway, and when Southee removed Rahane shortly after, bizarrely caught behind while trying to leave a delivery, India's innings was in tatters.
This series should be a significant data point as to whether Tom Blundell is a long-term opening option for the Black Caps, and today's innings didn't inspire confidence. While Blundell got through to 30, and looked strong once again when facing the short ball, his technique was shown up on multiple occasions as deliveries snuck between bat and pad, and it was no surprise when that proved his demise, as Ishant Sharma angled a delivery back through the gaping hole and into the stumps.
A rare drop
Kane Williamson didn't have the greatest of time with his hands today. The Black Caps skipper put down a skier off the bat of Mohammed Shami when the ball simply burst through his awaiting cupped hands – a rare sight – and he then required running repairs when copping a blow on his right middle finger when batting. Overnight scans will likely suggest that Williamson should not be fielding in the second innings, and depending on the severity of the blow, his availability for the second test could be in jeopardy too.