New Zealand have a fight in front of them if they're to win, or even draw, the second test against India, at the Basin Reserve.
It's been a summer of positives for the Black Caps, but they produced one of their poorest days of the season today and India will resume at 100 for two tomorrow, in reply to the hosts' 192.
India got the best of the bowling conditions, and utilised them well, but it would be drawing a long bow to suggest the wicket was responsible for the Black Caps' paltry first innings total, after being asked to bat.
India's reply showed that the pitch was steadily flattening out and that New Zealand's innings could've reached much greater heights. Come the last session batting looked comfortable, with no hint that balls were about to rear off a length or go sideways.
There was swing all day but, given batsmen could trust the bounce, leaving deliveries shouldn't have been too difficult.
It was never easy in the first two sessions, but the underlying feeling was that New Zealand looked to play too much. Of the top six, only Brendon McCullum, who made 8, and Corey Anderson (24) were out looking to attack the ball.
Peter Fulton was trapped lbw for 12, but he's always a candidate for that, with a front foot that goes across the crease and a bottom hand keen to work everything to leg.
The others, though, plus wicketkeeper BJ Watling, all had flirts at things that were unlikely to threaten their stumps, either due to line or bounce. It's natural to want to feel the ball on the bat, but the first two sessions probably called to players to do that as sparingly as possible.
Momentum also contributes. No matter how confident a player is in his form and method, seeing quick wickets fall always creates pressure.
Fulton and Hamish Rutherford are routinely going in quick succession and that has to be cause for concern. As much because, while neither looks in great nick, there aren't people at the level below you can confidently say would do better.
For the time being, at least, it seems the rest of the batsmen have to accept that being two for 26, as the team was this morning, is probably a realistic scenario.
India's bowlers deserve credit too. They were generally demanding and got the ball to swing, which is the key to success at the Basin. It's swing, rather than seam, that defeats players on this ground and Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami and Zaheer Khan got the ball to shape nicely.
Certainly more prodigiously than New Zealand did. None of the Black Caps' bowlers ever created much pressure in the overs before stumps, as they mixed useful deliveries with stuff that allowed dashing opener Shikhar Dhawan (71 not out) to free his arms and hit into his favourite area square on the offside.
Having been bowled out short of 200, New Zealand obviously needed wickets. But the bowlers weren't consistent enough make that a reality.
Day one of the second test at the Basin Reserve, Wellington
P Fulton lbw b I Sharma 13
H Rutherford c Vijay b I Sharma 12
K Williamson c R Sharma b Shami 47
T Latham c Dhoni b I Sharma 0
B McCullum c Jadeja b Shami 8
C Anderson c Kohli b I Sharma 24
B Watling c R Sharma b I Sharma 0
J Neesham c Dhoni b Shami 33
T Southee c Vijay b I Sharma 32
N Wagner not out 5
T Boult c Pujara b Shami 2
Extras (lb 2, wd 8, nb 6) 16
Total (52.5 overs) 192
Fall: 23, 26, 26, 45, 84, 86, 133, 165, 184, 192.
Bowling: Zaheer Khan 17-3-57-0 (1w, 2nb), M Shami 16.5-4-70-4 (2w, 1nb), I Sharma 17-3-51-6 (3nb), R Jadeja 2-1-12-0.
S Dhawan not out 71
M Vijay c Watling b Southee 2
C Pujara lbw b Boult 19
I Sharma not out 3
Extras (b 4, wd 1) 5
Total (for 2 wkts, 28 overs) 100
Fall: 2, 89.
Bowling: T Boult 9-4-18-1, T Southee 7-0-20-1, N Wagner 7-0-36-0, C Anderson 3-0-14-0, J Neesham 2-0-8-0 (1w).
New Zealand: Peter Fulton, Hamish Rutherford, Kane Williamson, Tom Latham, Brendon McCullum (captain), Corey Anderson, BJ Watling, Jimmy Neesham, Tim Southee, Neil Wagner, Trent Boult.
India: Murali Vijay, Shikhar Dhawan, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Ajinkya Rahane, MS Dhoni, Ravi Jadeja, Zaheer Khan, Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami.
Umpires: Steve Davis (Australia), Richard Kettleborough (England). Third umpire: Derek Walker (NZ).
- The Dominion Post
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