Bungling Indians stare at a stiff climb

Visitors stumble to 130/4 after McCullum's 224

Bungling Indians stare at a stiff climb

India were pushed to the backfoot after yet another familiar top-order batting collapse as hosts New Zealand took firm control of the the first cricket Test riding on skipper Brendon McCullum’s brilliant double century here on Friday.

McCullum’s sparkling 224 guided New Zealand to a commanding 503 in their first innings despite a six-wicket haul by pacer Ishant Sharma.

India were struggling at 130 for four, when bad light halted second day’s play with Rohit Sharma standing tall amidst ruins batting on 67 in company of Ajinkya Rahane (23 batting). India are 373 runs behind New Zealand’s first innings total and still require another 174 runs to avoid follow-on.

India’s top-order again performed miserably as they were reduced to 10 for three at one stage with Shikhar Dhawan (0), Cheteshwar Pujara (1) and Virat Kohli (4) back in the pavilion due to some inspired seam bowling by Trent Boult and Tim Southee.
Murali Vijay (26) did all the hardwork before Neil Wagner dismissed him with a beauty to reduce India to 51 for four.

Rohit-Rahane did some repair work with an unbroken 79-run stand for the fifth wicket.
Rohit especially looked in silken touch as he hit eight fours and a six off Kane Williamson in 102 balls.

Coming in at 10 for three, Rohit was initially a bit shaky as he scored only one off 24 deliveries before getting the first boundary.

He had a partnership of 41 runs with Vijay, who saw left-arm seamer Neil Wagner fire one in from wide off the crease and the delivery straightened after pitching to beat the batsman clipping the bails in the process.

Once Vijay was gone, Rohit decided to counter-attack as he hit three boundaries off a Wagner over. A pull, a punch through covers followed by a deliberate glide over slips.

Dhawan’s poor overseas technique was exposed once again as he was squared up off the very second delivery of the Indian innings by left-armer Boult as he closed the face of the bat and the leading edge was taken by Kane Williamson at gully.

Pujara played away from his body to a delivery that was shaping away while Kohli got a faint tickle on the glove to a rising deliery that also bounced off his helmet towards Peter Fulton at second slip.

India were tottering at 10 for three in 5.4 overs when Rohit and Vijay jouined forces, For the next hour, they played without taking much risk.

Earlier, skipper McCullum’s sparkling double century helped New Zealand reach a commanding first innings score.

McCullum played a captain’s knock scoring 224 off 307 balls with the help of 29 boundaries and five sixes as New Zealand were finally bowled out in 121.4 overs. Ishant on the otherhand got his fourth five-for in Test cricket ending with figures of six for 134 in 33.4 overs.

The New Zealand captain was the last man out when Ravindra Jadeja did brilliant balancing act to catch at the ropes.

This was McCullum’s second double century in Tests and also became the fourth Black Caps player to achieve the feat of scoring two or more double hundred in Tests. He joined Stephen Fleming, Glenn Turner and Matthew Sinclair in the list.

Out of the six wickets that fell today with an addituon of 174 runs, Ishant took four while Jadeja (1/120) and Mohammed Shami (1/96) shared the remaining two. Zaheer Khan (2/132) didn’t add to his overnight tally.

Overnight 329/4, it didn’t take much time for McCullum and Corey Anderson (77) to get going as their fifth-wicket stand yielded 133 runs.

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