Daijiworld Media Network
Bangalore, Sep 2 : Welcome one and all to day 3 of the 2nd Test between India and New Zealand from Bangalore. Virat Kohli and MS Dhoni have put on a wonderful partnership and they will look to push India ahead. New Zealand will be banking on the second new ball to break this stand.
Pitch Report: The cracks are starting to open up. Sunil Gavaskar says that the green patches will hold the wicket together. There will be some turn on offer. Simon Doull says that there could be a bit of uneven bounce. The second new ball is crucial for New Zealand. It could be the last day for easy batting.
Raina: I am disappointed that I did not convert my fifty into a big one. I had a good stand with Virat Kohli. He told me to be calm and focused. Compared to the last series, the NZ bowlers have bowled well with the old ball. Boult, Southee and Bracewell have bowled well so we had to attack Jeetan Patel. Virat and Dhoni have to bat really carefully in the first session.
Day 2 Report :
Composed Kohli leads India’s fightback
New Zealand have always been known for their ability to punch much above their weight, but they seemed to have forgotten that trait at Hyderabad. But on a largely overcast Saturday at the M Chinnaswamy stadium they managed to pin India to the ropes for a long time, temporarily annulling the possibility of a lop-sided contest.
The morning session, however, give little indications to the sparring contest that followed. Indian bowlers re-discovered their lost sting in the morning session, bundling out New Zealand, overnight 328 for six, for 365. Pragyan Ojha completed his third five-wicket haul in Tests that he later dedicated to VVS Laxman, who retired from international cricket recently. India ended the second day at 283 for five, trailing by 82 runs.
India might have closed the gap considerably, but there were not many moments India looked the dominant force that they usually are at home. The Indians were kept on a tight leash for most part of their innings by a hard working bowling unit.
Even India’s position of relative comfort was the direct result of the industriousness of two youngsters – Suresh Raina and Virat Kohli, who notched up an unbeaten 93 that was an assertion of his growing maturity. They came together at a time when India were struggling at 80 for four, and there might have been few nervous minds in the Indian dressing room.
It was the first time the new breed of Indian middle-order was put under test, but the manner in which they survived a tense situation was the most roseate sign to have emerged from the day. At this stage of their respective careers, Kohli and Raina are going through entirely different route.
The Delhiite has been the toast of the nation, stitching together a wonderful run in both Tests and one-dayers. However, the Uttar Pradesh man could not replicate his strong outings in the ODIs in the traditional format, losing his place in the side after a forgettable tour of England that included a golden pair at the Oval in the fourth Test.
But on the day they merged their paths in spectacular fashion, milking 99 runs off 165 balls for the fifth wicket that helped India tide over the early loss of top four batsmen.
But the beginning of their association had a contrasting nature, Raina all fire and brimstone, Kohli watchful and willing to wait for his chance.
Raina’s hurried start can be attributed either to his desperation to score after a failure at Hyderabad or to a pressure-releasing strategy. Whatever be the truth behind his approach, it helped India wriggle out of the python-like grip the Kiwis applied till then, also forcing the visiting skipper Ross Taylor to rethink his tactics.
There were delicious shots through the cover region off pacers Tim Southee and Doug Bracewell that wowed a sizeable weekend crowd. At the other end, Kohli remained an appreciative partner till the 21st ball he faced; the cover drive off offie Jeetan Patel brought Kohli also into action mode.
Raina, who escaped a stumping when he was on 48 because Patel clearly no-balled, couldn’t exploit his fortune, a faint edge off Southee ended in the hands of stumper Kruger Van Wyk, who made an excellent leg-side collection to snap the association.
But New Zealand ran into the sixth-wicket alliance between Kohli and Mahendra Singh Dhoni, worth 104 and still going strong. Once found his range, there was no stopping Kohli as those trademark whip drives off pads, smooth cover drives, audacious pulls and crisp-as-chips straight drives flowed from his willow.
Though the several edges that fell short of slip cordon reminded us about the diligence of New Zealand bowlers, and on a better day they could have been much more successful.
But they have had their moments on the day. Kiwis expelled Gautam Gambhir and Cheteswar Pujara in the first session to put pressure on India, though the latter was tad unlucky to see his hook off Tim Southee failing to clear Trent Boult at fine leg.
But the initial minutes of the post-lunch session had more shocks for India as Kiwis winkled out Virender Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar in the span of two overs.
But India found their Three Musketeers in Kohli, Raina and Dhoni.
We failed to build pressure: Southee
At eighty for four, the Indians were on the backfoot against a fiery New Zealand bowling attack. The Kiwis, however, failed to capitalise on the situation.
Barring the wicket of Suresh Raina soon after tea, New Zealand seemed to have let the Indians off the hook. It would be unjust to say Virat Kohli and skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni had no part to play but that still does not explain what seemed like lack of intensity from the Kiwis mid-way through day two of the second Test at the M Chinnaswamy stadium.
“No, we’re still creating chances and getting edges,” said Tim Southee, who returned with figures of three for 35 in 15 overs, when asked if his team lacked intensity later on.
“I guess we didn’t build enough pressure through dot balls. But there were still chances with the edges, the ball got a bit old and it wasn’t carrying. I thought we bowled well. It just gets easier as the ball gets older and unfortunately we couldn’t get it to reverse.”
Kruger van Wyk and Doug Bracewell stitched together a crucial partnership at a critical juncture to carry New Zealand to a position of relative comfort at the end of day one.
However, once that partnership was broken – early on day two, the rest of the batting just fell apart.
“We were very unlucky with Doug’s dismissal (run out after backing up too far). He was playing very well and deserved to go on and get a big score. But those things happen.
Yes, 400 would have been nice, but the contribution from the tail was a good effort. The way Kruger batted as well. Start of the day we would have wanted to take a bit more, but it’s runs on the board nonetheless,” Southee opined.
The New Zealanders formed another partnership which troubled India and this time it was Southee and young Trent Boult. Southee may have been the one with the wickets to show for, but Boult was the one who smothered the Indians.
“I’ve played a lot with Trent in age group and domestic cricket. Doug is my mate as well. So it’s good to have both guys here. Was a good spell with the new ball from both of us,” said Southee.
Talking about the team’s chances of pulling off a series levelling win with three days left, Southee said: “It depends on how well we get these last few wickets and how well we bowl with the new ball. It has turned the whole way through and that’ll be a massive part of how well we bat in the second innings. If we put some runs on the board and pick up some wickets tomorrow without too much damage then we’re right in it.
New Zealand's bowling performance early in the day was really admirable. The new ball bowlers troubled the top order with pace and swing and India were in a spot of bother at 80/4. Raina dazzled with a counter-attacking knock with Kohli giving him company. Later, Kohli put on another good stand with his skipper and both these stands together have added 203 runs. India are now in a comfortable position with two set batsmen at the crease and Ashwin to come. The second new ball might trouble them, but the silver lining for the Indian spinners is that the pitch has begun to assist turn.