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The Report by Abhishek Purohit in Whangarei
February 2, 2014
Indians 41 for 0 trail New Zealand XI 262 for 9 dec (O'Donnell 80, Pandey 3-42, Ashwin 2-45) by 221 runs
The Indians got what they would have wanted out of the first day of their practice match in Whangarei. The New Zealand XI batsmen lasted long enough to give the Indian bowlers a six-hour workout on a nice batting wicket and after a sizeable opening stand, the wickets came regularly for the Indians to keep running in under a hot sun.
The visitors' luck with the toss finally ran out in the absence of MS Dhoni, who had won it all five times in the one-dayers. The India captain did not make the trip from Auckland to Whangarei, and Virat Kohli also stayed behind. Rohit Sharma led the side, with Ravindra Jadeja, Mohammed Shami and Bhuvneshwar Kumar sitting out.
Ishwar Pandey was the pick of the bowlers, finally getting a chance on the tour as the teams decided to use 12 players each. Pandey had not been considered ready enough to feature in any of the five ODIs, and he was the fifth bowler to be used, taking the field after the first drinks break. He made the opportunity count as he was sharp and disciplined, finding bounce just outside off stump. Apart from an over where he tried out the short ball a few times and was pulled for boundaries, he rarely strayed in length or line.
Among the new arrivals, Zaheer Khan did not extend himself too much, but was accurate as usual. He also worked up a decent rhythm, beginning with an opening spell of 6-4-7-0. He sent down 18 overs in all, and apart from the normal slow chases on the field, his efforts did not seem to strain him.
The lone wicket he captured was that of Anton Devcich, the opposition captain and only international player in the New Zealand XI side. It was a straightforward Zaheer dismissal of a left-hander- inviting the drive outside off and finding just a bit of movement to take the outside edge.
Umesh Yadav also did not go flat out, and eased himself into the tour. He did start to run in faster as the day progressed, but he often remained on the shorter side and was taken for a few runs towards the end as the last pair of batsmen had a slog.
Ishant Sharma struggled with his front foot, as ten no-balls showed, and was unable to find a measure of rhythm for large parts of the day. As always, that wasn't for lack of effort. He ran in harder as the day got hotter, and generated good bounce after tea. He dismissed the opposition's highest scorer, the New Zealand Under-19 captain Robert O'Donnell, who was taken by a diving Ajinkya Rahane at gully after making 80.
Soon to be bound for the U-19 World Cup, O'Donnell played several confident pulls, especially off Ishant. He also cut well, and stepped out to R Ashwin to loft him down the ground.
Ashwin was steady, tossing it up generously at times and also bowling flatter in between. He broke through for the Indians after they had gone through 30 fruitless overs in the morning, trapping George Worker lbw on an attempted sweep.
M Vijay and Shikhar Dhawan batted out the seventh and final hour of play after the hosts declared on 262 for 9 at the end of 78 overs. There were a couple of deliveries that didn't carry to the cordon, but Vijay left well overall and Dhawan struck a few crisp boundaries through extra cover.
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