Wellington, Feb 21:
India’s top-order batsmen performed woefully on a challenging track as the side crawled to 122 for 5 with New Zealand’s towering pacer Kyle Jamieson rattling the visiting big guns on his debut on a rain-hit opening day of the first Test here.
Friday’s play was called off after tea due to a heavy downpour, the gloomy conditions typifying India’s batting blues with only Ajinkya Rahane (38 batting off 122 balls) matching wares when it came to winning the mental battle.
The 6″8′ Jamieson could not have asked for a better start, picking up 3 for 38 in 14 overs and his prized scalps included two of India’s best long-form batsmen — skipper Virat Kohli (2) and the dogged Cheteshwar Pujara (14 off 42 balls).
He also took a lovely catch in the deep to cap off a day he will remember forever. What Jamieson did wonderfully well was mix up the back of the length stuff with fuller deliveries in between.
He bowled the natural back of the length deliveries that climbed on the batsmen, pegging them on backfoot.
He also mixed it up with fuller deliveries when the batsmen were just a tad unsure of their footwork.
Bowling at barely 130 kmph, he troubled the visitors making it easier for senior pros Tim Southee (1/27 in 14 overs) and Trent Boult (1/44 in 14 overs) to bowl a more probing line.
“The last couple of weeks has been pretty surreal. Pretty pleased and from a team perspective we’re in a pretty good position as well,” said Jamieson at the end of the day’s play.
Such was the disciplined effort from the Black Caps bowlers that India managed only 43 runs in the second session.
Rahane played 122 balls, hitting four boundaries on a heavy outfield. Rishabh Pant was at the other end on 10.
Mayank Agarwal (34 off 84 balls), who did the hard work of surviving the first session, was out after lunch as he tried a pull shot off Boult just after surviving a tough caught and bowled chance.
“As a batsman, it’s not easy, especially first day, on this track. I thought they bowled good areas and they kept testing us. They didn’t give us anything loose,” Agarwal, who was the only other batsman who looked a bit comfortable said.
“As a batsman, you never felt that you were completely in because even after lunch, it was doing a little bit,” he added.
Hanuma Vihari (7) was Jamieson’s third victim when he edged a pitched up delivery.
“With my height, I can afford to go a fraction fuller, especially out here with the extra bounce. I try to make guys commit to play off the front foot…And if it does swing or seam you have a chance of bringing the edge in,” Jamieson revealed his simple gameplan.
Once Kane Williamson called it right under the overcast conditions, it was a challenge for the Indian batsmen.
Young Prithvi Shaw’s loose technique and tendency to close the bat face was always going to cost him.
Southee bowled one that looked like angling in and Shaw closed the bat face as the ball moved a shade away after pitching, brushing his pad and then the off-stump.
Pujara was ready to show a lot of patience as he started leaving deliveries outside the off-stump.
However, Jamieson, coming in as the second change, bowled his back of length delivery on the off-middle channel and he had no option but to jab at the rising delivery which kissed the outside edge of his bat and was taken by BJ Watling.
Kohli was playing Jamieson for the disconcerting bounce that he generated from back of the length but in between, the bowler decided to slip one fuller delivery on the fourth stump channel.
Kohli lunged into the drive and the thick edge was taken by the ‘100 Test man’ Ross Taylor, standing at the first slip compounding India’s troubles. (PTI)
Wellington, Feb 21: