Agarwal's half-century takes India to 78/2 at tea

Mayank Agarwal's half-century takes India to 78/2 at tea, still trail by 105 runs

India's Mayank Agarwal plays a shot during day three of the first Test cricket match between New Zealand and India at the Basin Reserve in Wellington on February 23, 2020. (Photo by AFP)

Mayank Agarwal reached his half-century but Cheteshwar Pujara paid the price for his ultra-defensive batting as India reached 78 for 2 at tea on the third day of the first Test against New Zealand here on Sunday.

This was after New Zealand lower-order gave the hosts a commanding 183-run lead in the first innings.

India are still trailing by 105 runs after New Zealand scored 348 in their first innings.

India lost Prithvi Shaw's (14) wicket in the second session as Agarwal (52 batting, 81 balls) and Pujara (11 off 81 balls) added 51 runs for the second wicket.

However, Pujara's negative batting did have its impact as it caused an error of judgement while shouldering arms to an incoming delivery from Trent Boult (2/17 in 10 overs).

Shaw's poor technique was once again exposed as Boult got one to rear up and the opener fended it awkwardly with a closed bat face and the ball ballooned up to short square leg where Tom Latham took a diving catch.

Agarwal showed positive intent hitting six boundaries and a six over long-off off Ajaz Patel's bowling.

Pujara, at the other end, defended well leaving a lot of deliveries on length and ducking the bouncers. He was stuck on 6 for 28 balls before a couple of runs helped him break the shackles.

There was a strong appeal for caught behind to a short ball bowled by Kyle Jamieson. Pujara was batting on 3 but the third umpire upheld the decision of on-field official Richard Kettleborough after TV replays showed that the ball brushed his arm guard.

In the first session, debutant Jamieson continued with his dream debut as he and No. 11 Boult belted the Indian bowlers for fun and stretched their lead above 175-run mark.

Ishant Sharma (5/68 in 22.2 overs) remained the stand-out bowler for India. Ravichandran Ashwin (3/99) also got a couple of wickets in the morning but not before getting a bit lot of stick from the tail-enders, who were in the lookout for quick runs.

Jamieson's 45-ball knock had four towering sixes. He added 71 runs for the eighth wicket with Colin de Grandhomme (43 off 74 balls) in just under 15 overs.

Boult (38 off 24 balls) had some real fun in the end and by that time, the shoulders of the Indian attack had already dropped as they were able to read the writing on the wall.

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