Test Cricket: India In Command, New Zealand Follows On!

Cheteshwar Pujara in full flow!
Team India was in absolute command when rains played a spoilsport putting an end to the third day’s play today in the first cricket Test match between India and New Zealand in Hyderabad. Starting from a disastrous overnight score of 106 for 5 New Zealand lost its bottom half for the addition of only 53 runs and got all out for 159 giving India a lead of 279 runs. Indian skipper Dhoni enforced the follow-on and New Zealand struggled to 41/1 when rains stopped play.

Ashwin in action!
Despite a cloudy and heavy weather it was not the seamers, namely Zaheer Khan and Umesh Yadav, but the Indian spinners, Ashwin and Ojha, who dominated the proceedings and proved New Zealand’s dubious reputation in tackling spin bowling yet again. Ashwin and Ojha shared nine out of the ten wickets to fall between them with Ashwin capturing 6 and Ojha 3. Umesh Yadav got the other wicket.  It was Ashwin’s third haul of five or more wickets in an innings in his 7 tests. The likes of McCullum or Guptil or Taylor could not do much and there was not even a single fifty scored in the entire innings. Franklin scored the highest 43 runs remaining not out. The first Test looks as good as over now unless the rain gods decide to bail out the languishing touring team that unfortunately had to appear for the test without having a single warm-up match. The timing of this short India-New Zealand Test Series looks odd too considering the fact that the South West Monsoon remains active in India till September.

Playing a Test without Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman for the first time in years Team India made a sound beginning with its young guns firing. On the first day, the 23rd of August, 2012 Cheteshwar Pujara, playing only his 4th Test, laid solid anchors with patience and determination, and achieved his maiden century remaining unbeaten at stumps. The sensational Virat Kohli contributed well with a half century. Skipper Dhoni gave Pujara sound company and guided India to 307/5 at the end of the first day’s play. On the second day too the duo kept on and after a partnership of 127 run  Pujara fell for a brilliant 159 with the team’s score at 387. Dhoni was the next out at 411 with his individual score of 73 runs. But for a gutsy 37 by Ashwin the Indian tail could have folded up much more cheaply. The final score of 438 looked challenging on a spinning and uneven track. For New Zealand spinner JS Patel took four wickets and pacer Boult captured three. The Scorecard:

With two days to go only an extraordinary batting display or big favors from the rain gods could save New Zealand from a humiliating defeat. For India a big win would be a blessing after the memory of eight straight away Test losses.  


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