India vs New Zealand First Test: Williamson shines, Ishant leads fightback

New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson was at his lucid best, while Ishant Sharma was the lone bright spot for India on day two of the first Test at Wellington.

Ross Taylor and Kane Williamson stitched together a 93-run stand for the third wicket in Wellington.   -  Getty Images

Batsmen of Kane Williamson's quality like to play with the field. They open up gaps, disrupt bowlers' rhythm and create opportunities. These were all facets on show on day two of the first Test between India and New Zealand at Wellington on Saturday.

Williamson picked his length early and played the ball late, giving himself enough time to essay his shorts and time the ball well between fielders. Despite all this, his innings here at the Basin Reserve ended in an anticlimactic fashion.

The Kiwi skipper's strength - the cover-drive -  proved to be his undoing. Williamson could not keep his shot off seamer Mohammed Shami down and was held by substitute Ravindra Jadeja, diving forward. Nevertheless his 89 was an innings of quality and substance.

Highlights | New Zealand vs India: Williamson dominates but India fights back

Yet credit to the Indians - dismissed at 165 - for fighting back. They hung in there, persisting with attacking fields and hit back in the last session. New Zealand was 216 for five when play reached an early conclusion due to insufficient light.  

Earlier, the host was coasting at 166 for two - a potentially huge lead in sight - when Ishant Sharma got a delivery to climb into Taylor (44), who, unable to keep the sphere down, was picked up by Virat Kohli at short-leg. 

Taylor's dismissal ended the 93-run third wicket partnership between him and Williamson.

Then, late in the day, the left-handed Henry Nicholls was held at slip by an Ashwin delivery that spun away.

The Indians kept their belief. Even after the Kiwis had surpassed the Indian score, Kohli had a slip and two short-legs when Ashwin operated at Williamson, well into his 80s.

There was some turn and some bite for Ashwin and, if India can set a reasonable target in the fourth innings, he could be a handful. He bowled against the wind and there was some drift for him.

Indian bowling arsenal disappoints

Apart from Ishant Shamra, who tested batsmen with his line and bounce to scalp three, the Indian pacemen largely disappointed. Jasprit Bumrah was off-colour.  

Indian seamers should have bowled a fuller length, akin to kinds the Kiwi pacemen had employed with success, to test footwork and find edges. 

India's fast bowling arsenal needed to force the Kiwi batsmen to come forward to well-pitched-up deliveries and cover for the swing. If they didn’t do so, they would be caught at the crease.

Ishant struck for India when the Kiwis replied; he had Tom Latham taken down the leg-side and castled Tom Blundell (30), who played some fluent pulls and cover drives, with a nip-backer.

And the 100-Test man, Ross Taylor, walking in to a memorable ovation, joined his skipper. 

Williamson was already into his groove, stroked off either foot, the cover-drives, the on-drives and the cuts. The skipper was in control.

Taylor had his own methods of coping with the pressures of a personal milestone. He slog-swept Ashwin for a six, and then leaned into his cover-drive off Bumrah. 

The mercurial Taylor’s cuts scorched the turf; on view was his bat-speed.

India folds for 165

Earlier, the Kiwis made short work of Indians - the host needed just 13.1 overs on the second morning to remove the last five wickets. 

Rishabh Pant began with a rousing six, smoking left-arm spinner Ajaz Patel over long-on.

However, a poor judgment call from Ajinkya Rahane - he ran without caution after playing Tim Southee to point - resulted in Pant being run-out; Ajaz managing a direct hit from point. 

Southee then removed R. Ashwin off his next delivery, a mean ball that pitched on middle and hit off. Bowling against the wind, Southee was able to get his outswingers going. 

Rahane (46) did not last long either, unable to take his bat away in time to a Southee ball, delivered wide off the crease. 

Despite some brave blows by Shami and a comical drop by Williamson when the wind took the skier away from him, the Indian innings concluded soon. Kylie Jamieson and Tim Southee, a combination of new and old, claimed four wickets each.


India 1st Innings: 165 all ou in 68.1 overs (M. Agarwal 34, A.Rahane 46, M.Shami 21; Southee 4/49, Jamieson 4/39)

New Zealand 1st Innings: 216 for 5 in 71.1 overs (K. Williamson 80, R. Taylor 44; Sharm 3/31, Ashwin 1/60)


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