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1st Test against New Zealand: Indian batsmen falter on challenging track

Friday's play was called off after tea due to a heavy downpour

By PTI in Wellington
  • Published 21.02.20, 3:12 PM
  • Updated 21.02.20, 3:12 PM
  • 4 mins read
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India's Ajinkya Rahane turns the ball past New Zealand's B.J. Watling during the first cricket test between India and New Zealand at the Basin Reserve in Wellington, New Zealand, Friday, February 21, 2020 AP

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 in Wellington.

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.

Jamieson talks getting Kolhi, Pujara 

Getting Virat Kohli and Cheteshwar Pujara out on his first day in Test cricket is the stuff dreams are made of and no wonder Kyle Jamieson thinks events of the past couple of weeks have been "surreal".

Is he able to believe what's happening?

"Not really. It's still sinking in. The last couple of weeks have been pretty surreal as well. Pretty pleased and from a team perspective we're in a pretty good position as well," said the Auckland-born pacer, who is currently tallest, among international cricketers.

"He's a pretty good batter and such a key to their line-up. To get him early was massive for us. To get a couple (including Pujara) early was where the emotion came from, certainly pretty special," said Jamieson about Kohli.

New Zealand's Kyle Jamieson celebrates after dismissing skipper Virat Kohli for two runs during the first cricket test between India and New Zealand at the Basin Reserve in Wellington, New Zealand, Friday, February 21, 2020.
New Zealand's Kyle Jamieson celebrates after dismissing skipper Virat Kohli for two runs during the first cricket test between India and New Zealand at the Basin Reserve in Wellington, New Zealand, Friday, February 21, 2020. AP

While Kohli's problems outside the off-stump has been talked about, Jamieson feels that "nitpicking" wasn't the smartest thing to do.

"He's scored runs all around the world so to try and nitpick that would be not the smartest. With the assistance of the pitch it was how we would try to make him play and he's so strong on the stump line. I probably missed a little bit but managed to get the edge which was good."

The extra bounce that he generates has been his go to strategy since he came into the ODI side.

"I tried to keep it simple the last few weeks. My role is to make them play and with that extra bounce bring them forward. There was a lot of assistance with pace and bounce and swing and seam. That simplifies was my gameplan to try to hit a good area. I stayed pretty relaxed which helped," he said expecting that second day will also be helpful for the seamers.

The height also helps him to bowl slightly more fuller than other seam bowlers, something that got rid of Pujara and Hanuma Vihari.

"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.

"In that second spell, the first half of it, there were a lot of balls left on length. How do you commit them on the front-foot (is the key) and if it does swing or seam, you're in with a chance of bringing the edge in."

The steeper angle can also make life difficult for the batsmen, he opined.

"It just comes from a steeper angle. I'm not as quick as some of the other guys around the world but still my short ball is a weapon from the height that I can bowl it. I try and use it as much as I can as well as keeping it fuller."

He was happy that skipper Kane Williamson allowed him to bowl with the wind and it also helped him ease his nerves.

"I found out yesterday (that he was playing) and for me Test cricket has always been the pinnacle. There were a few emotions at the 'Cap Presentation' and this morning with the anthems. Also I was pretty lucky to get the wind. Not sure how often I'll get that, but no complaints."

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