Centuries put New Zealand in the driving seat

TOSS LOSS: New Zealand were batting first on a green Eden Park pitch in the first cricket test against India but captain Brendon McCullum was on fire.
TOSS LOSS: New Zealand were batting first on a green Eden Park pitch in the first cricket test against India but captain Brendon McCullum was on fire.

Dual centuries from captain Brendon McCullum and his deputy Kane Williamson made it a great toss for New Zealand to lose on day one of the first cricket test against India at Eden Park.

Having been in dire straits at 30-3 on a gloomy Auckland morning, New Zealand ended the opening day with the test at their mercy at 329-4 after being sent in to bat.

McCullum was undefeated on 143 and will continue tomorrow alongside Corey Anderson (42 not out) looking to ram home the advantage and post an unbeatable 500-plus first innings total. New Zealand added 150 for just one wicket in the extended final session.

McCullum and Williamson led the fightback with a fourth wicket partnership of 221 as a lively Indian bowling effort in helpful morning conditions gradually went flat.

The skipper raised his eighth test century and second of the home summer with a booming six off Ravindra Jadeja's spin. He reached three figures off 135 deliveries, three fewer than it took Williamson who notched his fifth test ton two overs later.

The epic partnership ended tamely when Williamson, who batted 252 minutes and faced 172 balls in all, edged veteran seamer Zaheer Khan down the leg side to be caught by skipper MS Dhoni.

India will be wondering where it all went wrong after Dhoni called correctly for a sixth successive toss this series and could barely hide his glee.

The pitch was grassy and the surface hard and ideal for any pace attack clutching a new red Kookaburra.

When openers Peter Fulton and Hamish Rutherford departed inside the first hour, and Ross Taylor followed quickly after an uncharacteristically scratchy stay, it was looking desperate.

India released the pressure as the sun shone after lunch. Williamson got a vital let-off on 32, when Murali Vijay put down a regulation chance at first slip off the luckless Mohammed Shami who was the quickest Indian bowler.

New Zealand were in control from then on. Williamson's golden summer continued, having racked up five successive half-centuries in the ODI series which New Zealand won 4-0. In tests the numbers this season are equally impressive; 522 runs at 74.57 stretching back to Bangladesh in October.

McCullum battled early on, struggling for timing and launching too hard at the ball. His momentum lifted with successive cuts for four off Ishant Sharma, who was excellent and hostile in the first session but couldn't quite sustain it.

Williamson's half-century took 79 balls, including two hooked sixes, and McCullum's took 86 deliveries as he dug in before the runs flowed in a rollicking second half of the day.

Sharma (2-62 off 21 overs) was the pick of the bowlers while Shami went wicketless in 22 overs after an excellent start. Zaheer (2-98 off 23) was a mixed bag while Jadeja's spin offered New Zealand a chance to cash in as he went for 81 off 20.

Scoreboard at stumps on day one of the first test between New Zealand and India at Eden Park, Auckland:


First innings

P Fulton lbw b Zaheer 13
H Rutherford c Rahane b Sharma 6
K Williamson c Dhoni b Zaheer 113
R Taylor c Jadeja b Sharma 3
B McCullum not out 143
C Anderson not out 42

Extras (b 1, lb 5, wd 3) 9

Total (for 4 wickets, 90 overs) 329

Fall: 19, 23, 30, 251.

Bowling: M Shami 22-6-66-0, Zaheer Khan 23-2-98-2 (1w), I Sharma 21-4-62-2 (2w), R Jadeja 20-1-81-0, V Kohli 1-0-4-0, R Sharma 3-0-12-0.

Fairfax Media