The rain had put a dampener on the proceedings and very few spectators
were at the ground. Those present were very vocal and excited in
welcoming the players onto the ground. Chris Harris had the crowd
roaring behind him as he walked out onto the field.
The New Zealanders went through some innovative fielding exercises,
and looked a thoroughly professional unit. In contrast the India 'A'
side went through the motions of their exercises, much the same way
warm ups are done in schools cricket. Stephen Fleming began his tour
of India on a high note, winning the toss. With the outfield still wet
and slippery, Fleming chose to bat first.
Mathew Horne and Mathew Bell took first strike for New Zealand on this
tour of India. Amit Bhandari took up the attack for India 'A' but
began badly, sending down two consecutive no balls to begin the match.
After the initial difficulty, Bhandari settled down and bowl a good
line outside the off-stump. Iqbal Siddiqui was on the spot from the
first ball and made Bell play. After 16 balls the Kiwis got their
first run off the bat.
Bell had an early let off when he fended at a ball outside offstump.
Bell was nowhere near the pitch of the ball and the ball flew off the
edge to the slip cordon. The India 'A' captain Amol Muzumdar at second
slip let the ball slip through him. The ball raced to the third man
Horne hit the first genuine stroke of the day when he flicked Siddiqui
nonchalantly to the mid-wicket boundary. He followed that with a
smashing cut shot that would have raced to the fence in most
situations. The outfield was slow as a result of all the moisture that
had been absorbed in the last few days. Horne then slammed a ball from
Siddiqui straight back past him for what was the shot of the day up to
that point. Presenting the full face of the bat, Horne drove the ball
magnificently off the front foot. Bell struggled to get going and was
repeatedly beaten outside off-stump. Bell finally got a measure of the
pitch and the bowling and flicked a ball from Siddiqui confidently to
the fineleg fence.
Horne made a serious error of judgment and let a perfect in cutter
from Bhandari go. The ball cut in of the seam and knocked the leg
stump right out of the ground. Horne had made 18 off 31 balls.
Craig Spearman came in at the fall of Horne's wicket. New Zealand got
its first taste of spin as Murali Karthik came on to bowl. He dropped
the ball short and wide and was hammered to the point boundary by
Spearman. Bhandari had his second scalp when Bell guided a ball wide
outside off-stump straight to Wasim Jaffer at gully. Bell had made 21.
The New Zealand captain Stephen Fleming walked out to the middle at
the fall of Bell's wicket and was greeted by a Bhandari bouncer that
sailed harmlessly through to the wicketkeeper. Fleming drove the ball
on the up in characteristic lazy fashion and was almost caught as the
ball dropped inches short of the fielder at cover.
Fleming moved his feet well and looked extremely comfortable against
the Indian bowling. Bhandari, the Delhi medium pacer, was the only
bowler to trouble the Kiwis. He was kept on for a long spell at one
end while Murali Karthik bowled his steady left arm spin from the
other end. At the end of a 9 over spell that cost him just 20 runs, in
which he picked up 2 wickets, Bhandari gave way to Siddiqui.
Murali Karthik plugged away at a good line and length and was finally
rewarded when Spearman tried to sweep him off his pads. Spearman
missed the line of the ball completely and was bowled around his legs.
Soon after there was more disappointment for New Zealand as Fleming
edged a ball on to his pads and the ball lobbed up to Wasim Jaffer at
gully. Jaffer pouched the catch easily and New Zealand were 71 for 4.
McMillan came in and went after Murali Karthik from the word go. He
came down the wicket and lofted the spinner straight back over his
head for a huge six. Astle and McMillan batted positively together and
began to score boundaries at will. Murali Karthik who was steady up to
this point dropped the ball short a couple of times and was slashed
away to the off-side boundary on both occasions.
Murali Karthik and Sriram then bowled very tightly in tandem and
stemmed the flow of runs. New Zealand were making slow but steady
progress when Sriram dismissed McMillan. McMillan had made 20. A sharp
turner from Sriram jumped and kissed the edge of McMillan's bat and
went through to the wicketkeeper.
Adam Parore came in next and was watchful to start off. Parore played
with a straight bat and did not attempt any flashy strokes. At the end
of 35 overs New Zealand were 119 for 5.
Though he was coasting along nicely, Parore threw his wicket away just
before the close of play. He attempted a big heave off Satpathy and
ended up dragging the ball to the on-side. The ball went into the
waiting hands of Siddiqui at mid-on. Parore had made 11. New Zealand
were in trouble at 134 for 6.
Chris Cairns came in and it was obvious that he was playing for close.
He left most deliveries alone and played only when he had to. The
batsmen were offered light at the end of 44 overs. The New Zealanders
readily accepted and went off the field. Astle was not out on 29 and
New Zealand were 135 for 6.
What began as a practice day for New Zealand ended on a disappointing
note. The visitors lost far more wickets than they would have liked.
The day was dominated by the India 'A' bowlers whose consistency and
accuracy held them in good stead.