ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 / News

India v New Zealand, 1st Test, Hyderabad, 2nd day

Spinners put India in charge

The Report by Sharda Ugra

August 24, 2012

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New Zealand 106 for 5 (Williamson 32, Franklin 31*, van Wyk 0*) trail India 438 (Pujara 159, Dhoni 73, Patel 4-100) by 332 runs
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Pragyan Ojha reacts after dismissing Brendon McCullum, India v New Zealand, 1st Test, Hyderabad, 2nd day, August 24, 2012
Pragyan Ojha dismissed Brendon McCullum in his first over © AFP
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  • Cheteshwar Pujara's 159 is the fifth-highest score by an Indian No.3 batsman against New Zealand. It is also the 16th time an Indian has passed 150 against New Zealand.
  • The aggregate for India for the No.3 and No.5 positions (217) is the second-highest in a single innings since the start of 2005. The highest in the period is 295 against West Indies in Kolkata in 2011.
  • Pujara's 159 is the third 150-plus score by an Indian batsman against New Zealand since 2010. Of the previous ten 150-plus knocks by Indian batsmen, nine have come in home Tests with Sachin Tendulkar scoring the only away one.
  • MS Dhoni's 73 is his 20th fifty-plus score as captain. Only Sunil Gavaskar (25) has most fifty-plus scores in matches as captain of India.
  • The 127-run stand between Dhoni and Pujara is the third-highest sixth-wicket stand for India against New Zealand. Dhoni has featured in three of the top five partnerships.
  • The aggregate of 55 runs for the first four wickets is New Zealand's second-lowest in Tests since the start of 2011. In the same period, they have failed to aggregate more than 100 runs for the first four wickets in nine of 22 innings.
  • India have lost only three times at home after scoring more than 400 in their first innings. The last two such occasions came in Tests in Bangalore against Australia and Pakistan.

New Zealand were reminded of what was going to be the tougher of their two tasks on this brief tour of India. Not so much bowling against the Indian batting on the country's slow, low turners, but batting on them, against the pressure of a sizeable total and the hypnosis wrought by spin. In reply to India's first - innings total of 438, New Zealand ended the second day of the Hyderabad Test at 106 for 5.

At the crease at stumps were James Franklin on 30 and keeper Kruger van Wyk, who is yet to score. Franklin was one half of the only decent partnership for New Zealand . He came at 55 for 4 and with Kane Williamson put up 44 for the fifth wicket, the two being the most confident against spin. They sent out a message to their floundering team-mates on the basics that work against playing spin in India - the use of the crease, the precision of movement either forward or back and the willingness to score rather than defend.

When Williamson fell with three overs to go before stumps, incorrectly cutting Pragyan Ojha into Virender Sehwag's hands at slip, it sent out another message. That New Zealand would need to play the best they have over the last month in order to take this game to the fifth day.

The Indian spinners hit their stride quickly and turned the Hyderabad pitch into a turning trampoline for the opposition. After eight overs of pace, MS Dhoni turned to spin in the eighth over bringing on left-arm spinner Ojha in place of Umesh Yadav. The rewards were instant. Brendon McCullum had taken 20 runs in 21 balls off Zaheer Khan, including all his three spanking boundaries. Ojha, off the third ball, floated one away from McCullum, had him reaching for the ball and hitting it straight to Virat Kohli at cover. Ojha two for 35 at the end of the day included the wicket of Kane Williamson, 15 minutes before stumps, exposing, far too early, New Zealand's lower order.

Two overs later, R Ashwin got a wicket off his first ball and went on to prise out the middle of the New Zealand batting, getting Martin Guptill, Ross Taylor and Daniel Flynn. He ended the day with three for 30, tightening the noose, particularly against Guptill and Taylor, who were trapped in a defensive muddle. Guptill had lunged forward to defend a ball floating up on his middle stump, and inside-edged it to leg slip Kohli. Six runs later, a struggling Taylor was gone. He tried to turn Ashwin over to the leg side, the low edge flying to give a diving Kohli his second catch at leg slip. Flynn had used the sweep well against Ojha but was out leg before playing across to Ashwin, who came round the wicket. The delivery held its line and hit him low.

Until his departure shortly before the close of play, if any batsman had looked capable of handling the spinners provided he had company at the other end, it was Williamson. Two years ago, Williamson had announced his arrival in international cricket with a century on debut against India in Ahmedabad. In Hyderabad, for the better part of his innings, he did not allow either the spinners or the men around bat to impose. With stumps approaching and three men around the bat on the off side, Williamson tried to cut the persistent Ojha. The ball was neither short enough nor wide, and the catch went straight to Sehwag at first slip.

The batting blues came down heavy over New Zealand, ironically, after a session in which they had produced their best cricket of the Test. If prising the overnight batsmen Cheteshwar Pujara and Dhoni had not been possible before lunch, they cleaned up the remaining five Indian wickets for 67 by tea. It was because they did what teams must do in order to seize control of proceedings - attack.

Dhoni and Pujara had waited for the bowling to flag, the first intended boundary coming after 15 overs of play. The last five overs before lunch had them peeled off 23 runs. Pujara went past 150 and Dhoni his half century, each offering a chance before lunch.

After the break, Taylor gave his bowlers attacking fields and pulled the men off the straight boundary. Three men around the bat and a couple on the inner ring meant that the hard-working Jeetan Patel could offer enough temptations for the batsmen to rush into their big run-scoring shots.

Pujara was the first to do so as he left his crease and tried to tonk Patel over the on-side fence but failed and was caught by Franklin. Pujara left the field annoyed, scoring 159 on his return to the Indian team after 20 months. Dhoni then smacked a flighted one from Patel to Bracewell at mid-off and Patel was to end the innings with four for 100. Once Dhoni was gone, a 37 off 54 balls from Ashwin helped the Indians inch towards 438.

The start of the match was delayed by 25 minutes due to a threat of rain. While there are predictions of showers over the next two days, India's spinners have threatened to ensure an early conclusion.

Sharda Ugra is senior editor at ESPNcricinfo

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