Kiwi bowlers dominate as India ends Day 1 at 291/9

India loses five wickets in the final session to end Day 1 at 291 for 9. Cheteshwar Pujara and Murali scored half-centuries before New Zealand bowlers began their domination.

Virat Kohli, India captain, batsman, out, India v New Zealand

Indian captain Virat Kohli walks to the pavilion after being dismissed by Neil Wagner of New Zealand on the opening day of the first Test match at Green Park in Kanpur on Thursday.   -  PTI

New Zealand's Mitchell Santner celebrates after dismissing KL Rahul.   -  AFP

New Zealand bowlers toiled throughout the day on a docile Green Park track to push India off a position of dominance in its 500th Test. After an unyielding first session, in which the Indian batsmen raced past 100 losing just one wicket, the Kiwis restricted the host to 291 for nine as the play ended on Thursday.

Trent Boult, who found his bowling rhythm late in the day, struck three that hurt India’s hopes of a revival. Wriddhiman Saha, his first prey, missed an inswinger that entered through a narrow gap between pad after pitching on the middle and off and knocked the leg-stump.

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He removed India’s new number six, Ravichandran Ashwin, with an inswinger, coming around the wicket. Hard to leave because of the bounce and angle, Ashwin edged it to Ross Taylor at gully.

Mohammad Shami looked clueless after Boult breached his defence like he did against Saha.

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Electing to bat on Green Park’s typical hard, dry surface, India was hardly troubled by the Kiwi bowlers till lunch. With little swing on offer, Boult and Neil Wagner bounced Murali Vijay and K. L. Rahul. But they left and ducked with little difficulty.

 

When the pacers tried bowling full and on the off-stump, Rahul punished them. He scored two fours in Boult’s first over: a straight drive off a full toss and a punch to the covers off a full-length delivery.

Rahul was unhurried and stable despite the pacers’ best attempts to unsettle him. In the seventh over, Boult beat him with an inswinger and made him duck. But Rahul, in the same over, cut him past the point fielder and drove him to the covers, bisecting the cover fielder and mid-off.

Against Mitchell Santner, he came down the track to smother the spin or waited well to play the ball soft. Santner mostly delivered his slow left arm balls from the edge of the crease and on the stumps. A wider delivery was slog-swept for six. But a quicker one in the same over pitched a bit outside off, took Rahul’s edge and went to keeper B. J. Walting. That was all the success New Zealand could manage in the first session.

Cheteshwar Pujara and Vijay, resuming at 105/1 after lunch, eased to half-centuries. Vijay, with minimal power and the best of timing, struck eight fours in his 65. The late-cut off Boult even after the ball began to reverse was evidence of his sedate play.

Pujara’s innings was punctuated with powerful cuts to the point boundary. At the slightest offer of width, the right-handed batsmen anchored his back foot and slashed the ball. Vijay and Pujara put on 112 before the latter fell.

With the pitch unhelpful, New Zealand hoped for the Indian batsmen to err. Its wait ended when Pujara popped Santner’s straight delivery back into his hands.

Virat Kohli then strode to the crease amidst a roar that’s been reserved for the entrance of India’s number four for quite sometime now. The roar became louder when he lashed Santner past the cover and pulled Neil Wagner to square-leg boundary. Wagner, who persisted with the short balls, silenced the crowd with a faster delivery that Kohli mishit to Ish Sodhi at square leg.

Vijay then fell in the last over before Tea after he edged Sodhi to keeper B. J. Watling.

Rohit Sharma and Ashwin tried halting the damage with a 52-run sixth-wicket stand. But the partnership ended after Rohit’s lofted mishit found Sodhi, who ran in from long on.