The "right area'' eluded New Zealand yesterday.
Trent Boult and Tim Southee have, generally, put on fast bowling masterclasses all summer. Yesterday, though, they sprayed the ball with all the accuracy of a toddler let loose on a garden hose.
India resume on 100-2 today, in reply to the 192 New Zealand were bowled out for on the first day of the second test, at Wellington's Basin Reserve.
Boult delivered one searching two-over spell, right before stumps last night, but that was as good as New Zealand's bowling got on a day dominated by the Indians.
They won the toss, used the helpful bowling conditions to almost their full advantage and then made massive inroads towards overhauling the Black Caps' disappointing first innings total.
Shikhar Dhawan reinforced his reputation as one of opening batting's real dashers, on his way to 71 not out by stumps, but was aided by bowling which allowed him to free his arms and pepper the square boundaries.
"We missed our lengths a little bit,'' New Zealand vice captain Kane Williamson said.
"On a surface like that with the total we had, there is a lot of pressure on the bowling attack to be disciplined enough to put the ball in the right area for long enough. We missed a little bit but there's still runs on the board and we have to come back tomorrow and bowl better.''
New Zealand's effort was in stark contrast with India's. Yes, bowling first did help their cause, but you still have to produce sustained pressure no matter how green a wicket might be.
"It seamed around a bit and they got the ball to swing nicely and they bowled very well,'' said Williamson, whose 47 was the Black Caps' best score.
"It was a good challenge batting first on it and it was nice to scrape together a scrappy sort of total. Coming into tomorrow [today] we're going to have to bowl better, but there's plenty there.
"We showed that the ball's still swinging so there's certainly the threat there if the boys can put it in the right areas often enough.''
Yesterday was a tough one for Tom Latham. Asked to bat in Ross Taylor's spot of four, on his test debut, he came in at 26 for two, following the inevitable demise of openers Hamish Rutherford and Peter Fulton.
India were well on top and the ball hooping and bouncing, making for tricky conditions in which to play your first innings. He'll always remember his eight-ball duck, but will hopefully be good enough to show he's got more to offer at this level than that.
Fellow new boy James Neesham fared better. Batting at eight, Neesham benefitted from some of the sting disappearing from the pitch and his 33 underlined that he's a player of some promise, with bat and ball.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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