Wellington: India’s top-order batsmen performed woefully on a challenging track as they crawled to 122 for 5 with New Zealand’s towering pacer Kyle Jamieson (3/38) rattling the opposition on his debut on a rain-hit opening day of the first Test here Friday.
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, 122b, 4×4) matching wares when it came to winning the mental battle. Giving him company was Rishabh Pant (10 batting)
The 6’8” Jamieson could not have asked for a better start 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. Hanuma Vihari (7) was Jamieson’s third victim when he edged a pitched up delivery.
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 the back-foot. 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) and Trent Boult (1/44) to bowl a more probing line.
Mayank Agarwal (34, 84b, 5×4), 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.
Once Kane Williamson called it right under the overcast conditions, it was a challenge for the Indian batsmen. Prithvi Shaw (16), Pujara and skipper Kohli were back in the pavilion before lunch.
Young Shaw clipped one off Boult and also hit an uppish square cut to get two quick boundaries. But his 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. Pujara had no option but to jab at the rising delivery which kissed the outside edge of his bat and was taken by BJ Watling.
Lot of hopes were pinned on skipper Kohli but a smart ploy by Jamieson brought about his downfall.
Kohli was playing Jamieson for the disconcerting bounce that he generated from back of the length but in between, he 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.