Day one of the second Test between India and New Zealand at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata was a proper Test match day â€“ one that was difficult for the batsman and energy-sapping for the fielding side. At the end of the opening day's play, it is New Zealand who are slightly ahead, with India making a strong fightback after losing early wickets, before throwing away the advantage in the final session.
India were in a spot of bother at Lunch, losing three wickets with just 57 runs on the board, and then Cheteshwar Pujara (87, 219b, 17x4) and Ajinkya Rahane (77, 157b, 11x4) put on a 141-run partnership to give India control. That control, though, went in a hurry as New Zealand picked up four wickets in the final session to leave the home team on 239 for seven in 86 overs at stumps on day one, with bad light stopping play before the final four scheduled overs could be bowled. Wriddhiman Saha (14, 22b, 2x4, 1x6) and Ravindra Jadeja (0, 6b) are batting for India and the duo will hope to get the home team to 300 on the second day.
Virat Kohli had no hesitation in choosing to bat after winning the toss, but the captain would have been reconsidering that decision after the Kiwis made the ball talk, just enough, to put India on 57 for three in 27 overs at Lunch. The openers â€“ Shikhar Dhawan and Murali Vijay â€“ and Kohli were the three batsmen to go back early after Henry and Boult made use of the early movement, off the pitch, on offer.
However, in the second session, with the juice of the wicket dried up, Rahane and Pujara showed patience and resolve to bring India back before those four wickets brought NZ back into the match.
The first over from Boult was a sign of things to come, with a couple of balls taking off from a good length and carrying through to the wicketkeeper at a height, while there was just enough movement to make the batsmen worried.
Dhawan (1, 10b), back in the side after the injury to KL Rahul, though, will know he should have played a much better shot to the ball that he got out. Trying to play as late as possible, the left-hander, with an angled bat, only managed to inside-edge one onto his leg-stump off Henry.
Henry, in for the spinner Ish Sodhi, was quite impressive in the morning, moving the ball and beating the batsmen on a number of occasions. His second wicket, however, was thanks to the umpire Rod Tucker. Tucker gave Henry an official warning for running on the pitch, which forced the right-arm pacer to bowl wider of the crease. His first delivery from that angle was the dream one -- the one that pitched on middle and just straightened enough to take the outside edge of Vijay (9, 29b, 2x4) and land safely into the gloves of the wicketkeeper BJ Watling.
That wicket left India on 28/2 in the 12th over, which meant the home team needed a big partnership from Cheteshwar Pujara, who was severe on anything that was overpitched, and captain Kohli.
It looked, for a while, like it might happen as well, but a loose shot from Kohli (9, 28b, 1x4), on Boult's return, ended those hopes. The left-arm pacer bowled one full and well outside off, the carrot delivery, and Kohli fell for it, stretching out to try and hit the ball through the offside for a boundary, but only managing to hit one uppishly to Tom Latham at gully with the fielder taking a splendid catch diving high to his right.
Pujara (31, 80b, 7x4) and Ajinkya Rahane (2, 15b) batted out the rest of the session to ensure more damage would not be done, before building more momentum in the post-Lunch session.
Pujara, in particular, was impressive, not playing a false shot and making the bowlers bowl to his plans rather than the other way around â€“ he was lucky just before Tea, though, surviving an lbw appeal Mitchell off Santner when the decision could have easily gone the other way.
Rahane had his hairy moments, with his technique against spin again suspect. There were a couple of times when the ball reared up from a good length off the spinners Santner and Jeetan Patel, with Rahane's tendency to plonk forward and push at the ball causing a few heartaches, while the right-hander was also lucky when a leading edge went just beyond the man at mid-on. But, those storms were weathered and India went into the break in a much stronger position, only to lose it in the last two hours, even if plenty of runs came in that session.
Pujara failed to get to a hundred for the third straight innings despite crossing the half-century mark, driving the ball straight to short cover off Neil Wagner. Rohit Sharma's love affair with the Eden Gardens took a break as the right-hander fell to Jeetan Patel, before the off-spinner picked up Rahane as well with a nice quicker one that trapped the batsman right in front.
R Ashwin (26, 33b, 4x4) played a few wonderful shots and looked in the mood at the ground where he has scored a hundred before, but Henry, with the second new ball, got one to tail in and hit the batsman on the pads with the umpire Rod Tucker raising his finger.
Bowling: New Zealand: Trent Boult 16-8-33-1. Matt Henry 15-6-35-3. Neil Wagner 15-5-37-1. Mitchell Santner 19-5-54-0. Jeetan Patel 21-3-66-2.
Fall of wickets: India: 1/1, Shikhar Dhawan (1.4 overs); 28/2, Murali Vijay (11.2 overs); 46/3, Virat Kohli (21.4 overs); 187/4, Cheteshwar Pujara (69.1 overs); 193/5, Rohit Sharma (73.1 overs); 200/6, Ajinkya Rahane (77.4 overs); 231/7, R Ashwin (84 overs).
Session scoring: First session: 57/3 in 27 overs. Second session: 79/0 in 31 overs. Third session: 103/4 in 28 overs.