Mumbai 431 for 5 (Yadav 103, Pawar 100, Lad 86*) lead New Zealanders 324 for 7 dec (Latham 55, Williamson 50) by 107 runs
Amit Pagnis did it to Shane Warne in 1998; Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma traumatised Jason Krejza in 2008; Nathan Hauritz received a rude welcome from Ajinkya Rahane in 2010. On Saturday Suryakumar Yadav, Kaustubh Pawar, Siddhesh Lad, Armaan Jaffer and Aditya Tare continued the tradition of Indian domestic batsmen softening up the opposition spinners in their tour game. Rohit, himself a part of the Test squad now, failed to press claim for a slot in the XI, falling for 18 in an ungainly manner, but his Mumbai team-mates did a job for the India Test side by making New Zealanders' three frontline spinners toil for 51 overs for 263 runs and just three wickets. A whopping 402 runs came in the day. Mumbai's coach Chandrakant Pandit didn't brag too much, but cheekily said he hoped the India team would be happy that a state side had tested the visiting spinners.
Doug Bracewell, though, said the New Zealanders weren't too concerned about their performance, although there were lessons to be learnt. A lot of it was down to the flatness of the Feroz Shah Kotla pitch. New Zealanders' spinners, though, seemed to be playing for the conditions expected in the Tests rather than trying to beat batsmen in the air on an unresponsive track. Left-arm spinner Mitchell Santner and offspinner Mark Craig, in particular, kept bowling quick and flat, which works on the kind of raging turners that South Africa were given in India's last home season. Legspinner Ish Sodhi was the only one who created regular problems.
Be that as it may, the Mumbai batsmen matched the intent shown by the New Zealanders on day one, shot for shot. Jaffer, yet to make his first-class debut, had come in to bat on the first evening, at the fall of the opener Jay Bista for a duck, and hit Santner for a straight six in the first over he played. Now he hit Santner back over his head twice in his first over on the second morning.
The only time it seemed Mumbai were under pressure was when Sodhi, the last spinner used, began to turn a few. One legbreak got rid of Jaffer for 69, after which Rohit played an edgy innings. It just seemed anything could happen every time Rohit faced up. One of those things was a clean six over mid-off after eight straight dots, but he never looked in. On 18 he looked to charge Sodhi, who dragged his length back, drawing an uncertain defensive shot. In the same over Rohit repeated the charge without bothering about defending when beaten in the flight. An easy stumping for BJ Watling ensued.
It could have become 133 for 4 when Yadav skied a pull towards the stumps at the non-striker's end, but Sodhi, the bowler, dropped a dolly after going back a few steps, to herald an afternoon of pain. Having ridden his luck in the initial stages, Yadav got stuck into the spinners, hitting eight sixes in his 103 off 86 balls. He began with a swept four, and peppered the straight and midwicket region with his sixes. He brought up his hundred with a swept six off a full-toss.
Pawar, known for his stodgy efforts, opened up in Yadav's company, repeatedly driving the spinners over cover and back over their heads. The late-cut was beneficial too, as the spinners dragged their length back. He retired with an even hundred to his name, off 228 balls. Towards the end of the day, Lad and Tare filled their boots too, putting on an unbroken 137 in 22 overs. Lad ended the day batting on 86, having hit seven sixes.
Two worries for the New Zealanders will be the absence of reverse-swing, and the sameness of their spinners' offerings, not as a group but individually. Perhaps preoccupied with getting their pace right for the expected rank turners, they kept bowling similar trajectories and similar angles through the day. Their release points and pace didn't vary much. When Santner did slow up the odd delivery, he caused some indecision, once even drawing a chance, but dropped a return catch from Pawar, who was 45 at that point.
Release points changed for the quicks with both Trent Boult and Doug Bracewell trying the round-the-wicket angle, but they couldn't get much reverse swing. When Neil Wagner went to his trusted bouncers, the lack of pace off the pitch and friendly bounce rendered him ineffective.
"The surface didn't really break up and turn that much," Bracewell said. "We are not really concerned at this stage. It is early on in the tour. They played really well. I definitely know our guys will take some learnings out of today.
"We know it is going to be a different surface for the first Test. Wasn't really any surprises [to be given a different surface for the warm-up game]. Whether it is a part of India trying to get us to not expect something that might be our way... we definitely expected something like this. You just get on with it."