India v New Zealand, 2nd Test, Bangalore, 1st day August 31, 2012

Ojha satisfied with Indian effort

The first day of the Bangalore Test was a perfect one for neutrals as the underdogs New Zealand had their most productive day of the series, setting up a challenge for India's batsmen over the weekend. New Zealand fans will be thrilled with the scoreline of 328 for 6, but India weren't too disheartened after a day on which they were distinctly second-best.

The track at the Chinnaswamy Stadium is traditionally batting friendly - the last time a team batting first didn't make 400 was back in 2001 when England made 336 - and left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha was confident India could match any score New Zealand put up. "The way things are going it's a good wicket to bat," he said after the first day's play. "The kind of batting we have, I am quite confident we can put up a good score."

India could have eroded New Zealand's advantage had they managed to prise apart a quick 82-run stand for the seventh wicket between Kruger van Wyk and Doug Bracewell in the third session, but Ojha was satisfied with India's bowling performance. "It was a good first-day wicket and in this kind of surface, they were trying to be aggressive. I think that is what their game plan was. Ross [Taylor] played quite well too. Nevertheless, we picked up six wickets today."

New Zealand maintained a punishing run-rate through much of the day, picking on fast bowler Umesh Yadav in particular. Yadav was generally either too short or too full, gifting boundary-balls in nearly every over as he was taken for almost six an over. The rest of the attack too looked clueless during the hour after lunch when Taylor and Daniel Flynn were scoring at seven an over. Ojha, though, was adamant the bowling didn't lack discipline.

"Zak [Zaheer Khan] bowled superbly in his first spell," he said. "There was one catch dropped (Martin Guptill was put down by Virat Kohli at third slip in the 10th over), and if that had been taken then it would have been a different story as at that time the pitch was doing a bit. I think Ash [R Ashwin] and Umesh bowled well too. Taking six wickets on this kind of a wicket, which is not doing much, was a good effort."

While the consensus was that it was a bat-first surface, the quicks were expected to get some assistance in the first hour before the track eased out. To everyone's surprise, though, MS Dhoni decided to open the bowling with Ojha, the first time India have started an innings with a specialist spinner. Ojha didn't pick up any wickets with the new ball, but explained the thinking behind the unexpected move. "There was some moisture on the wicket and sometime when there is moisture the ball grips, so we wanted to make use of that."

New Zealand opener Guptill was nearly dismissed by Ojha in the third over, when an edge flew past slip, after which he decided to attack the spinner. "I was a little bit surprised (when Ojha opened the bowling)," Guptill said. "We got some interesting balls early on but we were able to get over it."

While his 53 and Taylor's blistering century have set New Zealand on course for a competitive total, Guptill was aware his side still had plenty to do. "We have to keep up the positive intent. If we put 400-450 on the board and attack them then it's going to put some pressure on India," he said. "There is a bit of swing and seam on this wicket and if we can pick up a few wickets early on, it'll be great."

Ahead of the Test, New Zealand captain Taylor had spoken about how one bad session is enough to ruin a Test; the weekend will show whether his side can sustain their performance after a strong start.

Siddarth Ravindran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • debarata on September 1, 2012, 9:02 GMT

    Day 2. For the the grand old man of Indian cricket, the end may be nigh . Watching SRTs middle stump going for a stroll brought back memories of Dravid's transformation from Great Wall to Gateway of India. I'm no expert, but the reflexes are definitely slowing, and time spent at the crease looks like a struggle. The spirit may be willing, but the flesh may have had enough. Tendlya , it pains us to see you falter; time to go.

  • Kalyanaraman on September 1, 2012, 5:15 GMT

    @Match_Referee. I thought the spinners did pretty well on a first day test pitch with overcast conditions that kept the wicket fresh. Ojha got 5 wickets. Sometimes one bowler gets wickets, sometimes the other does. What was puzzling though was Dhoni's tactics and one felt he went on the defensive and removed the close in catchers too quickly. He needs to have an in-out field in these situations.

  • Dummy4 on August 31, 2012, 23:36 GMT

    When is Taylor going to man up and bat at 3?

  • debarata on August 31, 2012, 21:15 GMT

    Ojha's satisfaction with team performance is now the yardstick of success for media and Team India. Lage raho Munnabhai. What with Ashwin's paunchy jogs and Ojha's pleasure, Srinivasan and Srikkanth must be doing cartwheels in ecstasy. Meanwhile comedy show in Bangalore; Kohli has excess energy in the slips, by trying to grab other's catches, he's spraying more than he's saying. He should share some energy with Dhoni and Sehwag, who were transfixed like Lord Buddha in England last year. Pragyan Ojha celebrating Kane Williamson's wicket with such gusto that his flying limbs almost took Raina out with along with the batsman. Can't wait for day 2.

  • Dummy4 on August 31, 2012, 18:56 GMT

    watch out for another innings from viru on day2

  • Jay on August 31, 2012, 17:50 GMT

    It was a satisfactory performance by Indian bowlers given how SMALL the ground is and how GOOD the pitch is for batting. Add to that, the blazing fast outfield. Having said that, NZ should have been dismissed below 300. Some of Dhoni's tactics were puzzling. He should have bowled Ashwin and Ojha a lot more. Instead he persisted with Yadav who was all over the park. The guy has pace but he lacks a plan. We all know what happens to RAW pace at the international level. Yadav has to THINK when he bowls. On a 2 paced wicket, you cannot bowl short. Yet, Yadav bowled too short and got hammered. Zaheer was brilliant as always. And then the spinners bowled decently but the NZ batsmen played them a lot better than Hyderabad. India MUST dismiss NZ by 350. Can't allow the game to drift. They should look to beat them 2-0.

  • Phani on August 31, 2012, 17:15 GMT

    After a lot of hype, Indian Spinners Ojha & Ashwin struggled through out the day and Taylor treated them as club bowlers today... They couldn't even take wicket of Kruger van Wyk ...

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