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Back-foot glory

Lou Vincent and Mark Richardson played the percentages well, while the Indian seamers erred in not making the batsmen play enough

S Rajesh
S Rajesh
The last time India and New Zealand played a Test match here, seven wickets fell in the first session, and 13 by close of play on the first day. The script ran along very different lines today, primarily because of the nature of the pitch, but also because of New Zealand's discipline with the bat and the Indian bowlers' inconsistency.
Both Lou Vincent and Mark Richardson played the percentages, leaving plenty of deliveries outside off - a strategy which brought them rich rewards against Glenn McGrath in Australia in 2001-02. Among the bowlers on view today, Zaheer Khan was the worst offender at the start: almost 50% of his deliveries (26 out of 54) in the first session did not require the batsmen to play a stroke. L Balaji was more accurate to begin with - 19 out of 49 balls he bowled before lunch were left alone - but by close of play both bowlers had wasted more than 40% of their deliveries. Richardson ended up letting go a quarter of the deliveries he faced - 73 out of 284.
Not making the batsmen play enough
Balls bowled Left alone % left alone
Zaheer Khan 109 44 40.37
L Balaji 103 43 41.75
Vincent's innings was characterised by his excellence off the back foot. The contrast against his front-foot play was especially stark in the first session - 28 from 31 balls when playing back, and 1 from 49 deliveries when playing forward. In his entire innings, Vincent ended up scoring at more than a run a ball off the back foot - 77 off 67 balls. Is there a lesson there for the Indian bowlers when they bowl to him next?
How Vincent and Richardson played in the first session
Front foot Back foot
Runs Balls Strike Rate Runs Balls Strike Rate
Richardson 14 56 25.00 15 32 46.88
Vincent 1 49 2.04 28 31 90.32