The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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‘Second new ball holds key’

Wellington: New Zealand opener Mark Richardson, who batted through the curtailed second day of the first Test against India for his unbeaten 83 runs here Friday, said the second new ball Saturday could be the key as to how the match shapes up in the coming days.

“The second new ball is due after four overs but I would be fresh and start all over again,” said Richardson, as he looked forward to extending New Zealand’s first innings lead of 40 runs with the support of the three remaining batsmen.

New Zealand coach Denis Aberhart lamented the fact his batsmen could not follow the example of Richardson and put the team in a better position.

“We would have been better off if the batsmen had followed Mark’s example,” said Aberhart. “We had a couple of partnerships to establish but it didn’t really pick on.” An interesting factor of spinners playing an important role on a seaming pitch was highlighted by offie Harbhajan Singh, who quickly got into the groove and took two wickets to lead India’s revival in the final session of the second day.

“It (the pitch) is helping the seamers, but it would help the spinners too. But if they have a Harbhajan, we have a quality spinner in Daniel Vettori too,” the coach said. Vettori, the left-arm spinner has picked up 139 wickets from 42 Tests but was not needed to bowl in India’s first innings.

Richardson too praised Harbhajan, but said his team was quite capable of chasing 300 runs in the last innings of the match. “It will of course turn and Harbhajan would come to be a big factor. But it is only one end (of the matter). I think it would flatten out and I don’t see any reason why we can’t chase a total in excess of 300 runs.

“At present there is a spongy nature to it and the ball isn’t really quite coming on,” said Richardson. Richardson was grateful he was dropped on 63 by V. V. S. Laxman at second slip off Ajit Agarkar. “I had lost a bit of fluency and was struggling mentally when I made an error of judgement but fortunately I was let off in the slips,” he said. Richardson praised the Indian bowlers and said they bowled a restrictive line throughout the day.

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