Whangarei, Feb 2:
India’s faltering cricketers found some rhythm as they reduced New Zealand XI to 262/9 declared on the opening day of a two-day practice match which was skipped by big guns of the team including skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
In reply, the Indians were placed India were placed at 41/0 in 14 overs after New Zealand XI declared in 78 overs in the only practice game ahead of the two-match Test series starting February 6 in Auckland.
After a dismal ODI series that was surrendered 0-4 to New Zealand, the Indian team enjoyed a good outing at the Cobham Oval, albeit in a non-competitive match.
For India, Dhoni and Virat Kohli were missing as they stayed back in Auckland, enjoying some rest after a hectic ODI series. Ravindra Jadeja was the third player missing from action, although he did travel with the team to Whangarei.
As it happens in such two-day practice matches, 11 players from each side were stipulated to bat or bowl.
India’s Test specialists who flew in this past week — Zaheer Khan, Cheteshwar Pujara, Murali Vijay, Umesh Yadav and Wriddhiman Saha — were all included in the playing eleven.
Meanwhile, Mohammad Shami and Bhuvneshwar Kumar were not listed to bowl, but came on for fielding duty as a couple of Indian batsmen spent some time practising in the nets as well.
New Zealand XI’s captain Anton Devcich, the lone player in the squad to play for the national side, won the toss and elected to bat first, after 97 overs were stipulated to be bowled each day.
Openers George Worker and Robbie O’Donnell put on 81 runs for the first wicket as the hard work for Indian bowlers seemed to carry over from the ODI series.
O’Donnell, captain of the New Zealand Under-19 team for the upcoming World Cup, warmed up with a nice half-century, scoring 80 runs (124 balls, 13 fours).
R Ashwin (2-45) provided the breakthrough and then Zaheer (1-42) removed skipper Devcich cheaply, before another little partnership worth 57 runs came up between O’Donnell and Jono Hickey.(PTI)