Wellington is one of the few places in the world, where the captain winning the toss does not hesitate in bowling first owing to the conditions on offer. Kane Williamson stuck to the brief as he asked the Indian team to bat first on a pitch which was green and under grey, cloudy skies. The task was always going to be cut out for the visitors who drafted in Rishabh Pant and R Ashwin in place of Wriddhiman Saha and Ravindra Jadeja.
As expected, the New Zealand bowlers put the batting order under a lot of stress and the batsmen did not respond too convincingly. Play was called off for the day after rain washed off the final session and India finished on 122 for 5. Here in this article, we take a look at the three of the biggest talking points from the day and the lessons India would have learnt.
#1 Defensive game needs to be strong
Prithvi Shaw is all action, he likes to get the scoreboard tagging along and this makes him an interesting prospect. However, when the conditions are challenging and the bowling is relentless, defensive game needs to come to the fore. Leaves outside the off stump should be an intergral part of the game, especially for the openers and this should be a big learning curve for the young opener.
Mayank Agarwal too was flashy at the other end and although luck did favour him he has to realise that surviving the first hour and then the next are essential to acing Test cricket. Yes, the conditions were very tough and the ball was seaming and swinging all over the place, but this was the cauldron where the mettle of a Test opening batsman is put to the sword.
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#2 Pujara, Vihari unlucky
On a pitch which was green and under grumpy skies, Pujara showed admirable tenacity. He was extremely disciplined outside the off stump and forced the bowlers to come closer to his body. Kyle Jamieson, who was making his debut, came close, and got the ball to seam away after pitching it on middle and off stump. There was nothing Pujara could have done with this ball and hence, he should consider himself unlucky.
Hanuma Vihari, who gave a great account of himself in the warm-up clash, too received an unplayable delivery by Jamieson. The ball was close to the stumps and decked away just a touch to grab the outside edge of Vihari. Both these batsmen did little wrong, but on such a surface few deliveries come which simply deserve a wicket.
#3 Kohli's old flaw reappears
Virat Kohli marched out when the second wicket fell and looked to take the attack to the opposition. However, Jamieson and New Zealand were not willing to look away - they kept attacking the fifth and sixth line and eventually, Kohli decided to go after one and nicked it through to Ross Taylor at first slip.
This was the exact same mode of dismissal which had tormented Kohli back in 2014 and the stoke will evoke memories of that nightmare. Credit should also be given to New Zealand - Kane Williamson bolstered the slip cordon, left the cover region open and asked Kohli to drive. The Indian captain took the bait and had to walk back.
The pitches and conditions will be similar throughout this tour and now the focus will shift back on the Indian captain as to how he responds to the challenges at hand.
Kyle Jamieson was the star of the show as he picked up three wickets and his game plan was clear to all the batsmen. Feeling of making my Test debut hasn't sunk in yet: Kyle Jamieson
"I think, the wicket holds the pace and bounce for a couple of days. It will help us tomorrow as well. Look, Virat has scored runs all around the world, the wicket assisted us, he is so strong on the stump line, I managed to get his edge and it was good," he said at the end of the day's playPublished 21 Feb 2020, 14:21 IST