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The Report by Abhishek Purohit in Whangarei
February 3, 2014
New Zealand XI 262 for 9 dec (O'Donnell 80, Pandey 3-42) drew with Indians 313 for 7 (Rohit 59, Rahane 60)
The first five Indians in the batting order in the Whangarei practice game will all be part of the first Test XI in Auckland. Of them, the first three fell after getting starts, and the next two made fifties before retiring. All five spent at least an hour each in the middle but the Indians would have wanted the top-order batsmen to have had a longer hit on the flat pitch before the side heads back to Auckland.
M Vijay went in the second over of the second day, losing his off stump as he tried playing a pitched-up delivery from the crease. Shikhar Dhawan and Cheteshwar Pujara carried on without any trouble but Dhawan ran himself out, going for a third run after punching through extra cover.
Pujara was quite solid in his first outing after arriving in New Zealand. He left well, pushed forward to defend confidently, and cut in his vigorous fashion whenever he got width. Having motored to 33, he missed an incoming delivery off the back foot to be trapped in front.
Vijay played 56 deliveries, Dhawan 68 and Pujara 66. While none could reach the point where they had the luxury of retiring, whatever practice time they managed before the first Test was still better than falling early.
Rohit Sharma and Ajinkya Rahane helped themselves to some more batting practice, making 59 and 60. Rohit had a few unconvincing slogs at the spinners, but none of the mis-hits was realistically a chance. Both batsmen were hardly bothered against an attack comprising fringe domestic players. After these two walked off within a few overs of each other, Ambati Rayudu, the reserve Test batsman, put in an unbeaten, two-hour stint that fetched him 49.
Wriddhiman Saha did not last long but R Ashwin came in to play some outstanding strokes. He hooked successive sixes when he was bounced and pulled as convincingly. Ashwin cracked 46 off 51, and the match was called off soon after his dismissal.
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