Auckland: Centuries by Kane Williamson and Brendon McCullum helped New Zealand take control on day one of the first Test against India at Auckland on Thursday. The Kiwis were 329 for 4 at stumps with McCullum unbeaten on 143 and Corey Anderson on 43.
Williamson and McCullum engineered a crucial fightback for New Zealand after a disastrous start to their first innings. New Zealand were in serious trouble at 30 for 3, before Williamson and McCullum added 221 runs between them for the fourth wicket to put the hosts firmly in command. Moreover, Kiwis' cause was helped by four dropped catches and inconsistent bowling by India.
After being sent into bat under overcast conditions, New Zealand could manage only 54 runs in the pre-lunch session losing both their openers, Peter Fulton (13) and Hamish Rutherford (6), and in-form batsman Ross Taylor (3). But Williamson and McCullum swung the first day in New Zealand's favour by adding 125 runs in 27 overs in the post-lunch session.
With the sun out in the second session, the pacers didn't appear as threatening as they did at the start. Williamson with his exceptional timing kept the score moving while McCullum got the boundaries at regular intervals. Starting their 149-run partnership after tea, Williamson and McCullum went about continuing their dominance of the Indian bowling. They did so by bringing up their respective hundreds, with the captain first to get to that mark. He hit Jadeja down the ground for his first six to reach his hundred in style. He got there in 135 balls, also hitting 16 fours in the process.
Williamson soon followed him as he first brought up their 200-run partnership and then his own hundred off 138 balls, cashing in on a dropped chance when on 32. He had edged a seaming delivery from pacer Mohammad Shami, but Murali Vijay dropped a sitter at first slip. Vijay also dropped an edge from McCullum, who scored quickly and batted through the two sessions.
McCullum was also dropped on 102 when Shikhar Dhawan failed to judge a looping catch at short fine-leg and the Kiwi skipper made the Indians pay a heavy price.
The 221-run partnership was finally broken when Williamson tried to clip a leg-side delivery and ended up getting a faint edge, caught behind for 113. Anderson survived the initial nervousness and settled in and added an unbeaten 78-run stand for the fifth wicket.
In the morning session, Fulton and Rutherford took first strike, even as Shami and Zaheer bowled at lively pace and beat the batsmen on more than a couple of occasions. In fact, the former was very lucky to survive on many occasions, continuously troubled by all Indian bowlers. He should have gone back, first on the seventh ball of the innings, with Zaheer inducing an edge but Dhawan dived in front of second slip and spilled the chance.
Fulton got another life 11 runs later when umpire Richard Kettleborough did not raise his finger on a plumb LBW decision in the ninth over bowled by Shami. He eventually got out for 13 runs, when Zaheer trapped him in the 13th over.
At the other end, Rutherford was brilliantly set up by Ishant in the 10th over earlier, with the batsman fishing outside the off-stump on more than one occasion. After four balls, the bowler finally found an edge as Ajinkya Rahane completed a superb diving catch at gully.
That was not the end of New Zealand's woes, with Taylor looking to play his shots from the start, despite a difficult pitch. It did not pay off, as he drove Ishant on-the-up and Jadeja completed a stunning catch at short mid-off, leaving the Kiwis reeling at 30 for 3.
For India, Zaheer Khan (2 for 98) and Ishant Sharma (2 for 62) picked up two wickets each, while Mohammad Shami (0 for 66) was unlucky to finish empty-handed despite bowling good spells throughout. Jadeja (0 for 81) also proved ineffective on the hard and bouncy pitch.
With agency inputs