After having a forgettable outing on Day 1, India did not have much to cherish on Day 2 of the first Test at the Basin Reserve as New Zealand comfortably took a lead of 51 runs and ended the second day's play with 216-5 on the board.
Continuing from their overnight score of 122-5, India managed to add only 43 runs and were bundled out for just 165 runs in the first session courtesy the clinical show by the New Zealand bowlers. Ajinkya Rahane (46) was the top scorer for India while Tim Southee (4/49) and Kyle Jamieson (4/39) were the pick of the bowlers for New Zealand.
In reply, New Zealand openers Tom Latham (11) and Tom Blundell (30) gave their team a steady start. Although Ishant Sharma sent both the batsmen back to the pavilion before they could convert their starts, the 93-run stand between Kane Williamson (89) and Ross Taylor (44) ensured New Zealand's were in to the lead in the first innings.
And now, as both the teams figure out what to do in the next three day's of play, let's have a look at the 3 talking points of the day.
#1 Rishabh Pant's bizarre run-out
India's hope of reaching a respectable position in the match relied heavily on the unbeaten pair of Ajinkya Rahane (46) and Rishabh Pant (19). Both the players showed a fighting spirit towards the end of the first day's play and needed to bat sensibly on Day 2.
However, things did not go as India would have wanted. In the fourth over of the day's play, Rahane played the ball to the off-side and rushed for a quick single without waiting for Pant's call who was running towards the danger end. Initially, Pant was not interested to take the single, but Rahane was already halfway down the pitch and the latter had to commit to the run. A sharp throw from Ajaz Patel hit the bull's eye at the striker's end before Pant could reach the crease, eventually sending him back into the hut.
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At that stage, Rahane and Pant just needed to hang on and there was no need for that risky single. But the miscommunication between the two gifted New Zealand the breakthrough out of nowhere, allowing them to run through India's tail end and India were shot out for just 165 runs in their first innings.
#2 No scoreboard pressure on the Kiwis
Indian bowlers needed to step up and come out all guns blazing to restrict New Zealand from taking a mammoth lead in the first innings. Even though Ishant Sharma (3/31) provided India the breakthroughs, the Indian fast bowlers could not trouble the New Zealand batsmen enough to produce another couple of wickets.
The main reason why the Williamson-Taylor did not bother to score in a hurry risking their wickets was the below-par score of India in the first innings. New Zealand knew well that even a score of 300-330 would give them a lead of around 150 runs, which was enough to create pressure on the Indians. And the 93-run partnership between the two was enough to take New Zealand over India's 165 with another 7 wickets in hand.
New Zealand were 78-2 in 26.4 overs. But despite India's disciplined bowling the kiwis never looked on a spot of bother, allowing them to play safe and steady without the need to risk their wickets for runs.
#3 Will India's late comeback prove to be the turning point of the match?
New Zealand comfortably leveled the scores and looked set to post a mammoth total. And if that happened, India would have virtually lost the match. But the tidy bowling by the Indian fast bowlers finally paid off as they managed to get past New Zealand's middle-order and gave India a ray of hope to save the match.
With the score of 166-2, New Zealand were well in control of the game. But the wickets of Williamson, Taylor and Henry Nicholls (17) in the last session made the Kiwis slip to 207-5 and ended the day's play with 216-5.
After struggling for nearly two days against New Zealand, India finally got the chance to make a comeback into the match. If India could continue the same momentum with the ball on Day 3 to wrap up New Zealand's innings as soon as possible, and show some grit with the bat, they might get an upper hand in the match.