Pujara stars for India on Day 1 vs New Zealand in the first test




Cheteshwar Pujara’s century is the only highlight in otherwise a ordinary effort from India players against rookie New Zealand bowlers.

The talk of this series is all about India and its combination excelling. New Zealand with all due respect is just like visiting guest who asked to compete for formality. After winning the toss, Dhoni had no hesitation whatsoever in deciding to bat first.

First Session:

Indian openers Gambhir and Sehwag began the innings little edgily. Gambhir in particular looked little uncomfortable but Sehwag launched himself in style after 10 deliveries with four boundaries in quick succession. Just when Gambhir (22) looked like settled, he played a poor shot to give New Zealand their first joy on the morning. But 49 runs stand between openers today being highest opening partnership for India in last 9 innings tells the big story. Sehwag (47) then followed his partner soon with another poor shot accounting to wicket. Earlier, Sehwag had few balls flying off the bat over/through slips and also a catch dropped at square leg by Flynn when he was at the score of 23. Pujara and Sachin both played cautiously to see India safely through to the lunch without any hiccups. India ended the season at 97/2.

Second Session:

First hour of post lunch saw New Zealand bowlers bowling lot better, in particularly Boult. Tendulkar (19 off 62 balls) looked to have got into shell and which in hindsight invited Boult to produce a beauty. Ball came towards Sachin with angle in the air but after pitching, it straightened and knocked over the middle stump. In came Virat at No.5, who along with Pujara displayed what can India look forward in the future. Both played with lots of maturity,  leaving good balls alone and smacking away the bad balls whenever it came. Pujara who looked like rock in the crease scored his fifty as India went into tea 182/3 with Kohli 32*.

Third Session:

India had their best time on day one when this two were batting together. 125 runs partnership between them has set the tone for transition in good way.

With ball getting older, first day pitch and more than 35 overs to go means, lots of runs are expected to flow in the session. Without much problems, Pujara and Kohli carried on their job supremely with former showing his class especially in back foot plays and later displaying the majestic wristy flicks that Hyderabad own themselves for decades now. Runs came in thick and fast for India as they scored 61 runs in 10 overs after tea. Kohli bought up his fifty with an edge four which Taylor failed to catch in slip. Pujara with floury of boundaries quickly reached 95 from tea time score of 54. But after that, he had to wait long time for next 5 runs anxiously. On the other end, Kohli (58 off 107 balls) became third Indian player departing to poor shot, which literally looked like giving practice catch to Guptill in 2nd slip.

Soon after Kohli dismissal, Pujara hit a four and a single in next six balls he face to complete his first ever international hundred. Although he is known for his big scores like double and triple hundreds at domestic fixtures, this hundred will give him lots of satisfaction and confidence to not only cement his place in the team but also excel to new highs.

Suresh Raina who pipped domestic run machine Badrinath, managed to score only 3 runs from 13 balls. He fell to one of freakish dismissal, fine edge to the ball bowled on the leg side taken by the keeper brilliantly. In walked captain MS Dhoni with lot to prove as test batsmen after dismissal overseas show. New Zealand captain Ross Taylor strangely after getting two quick wickets, bought in Kane Williamson to bowl at Dhoni and let him settled down far more easily. With light fading, India negotiated the second new ball somewhat okay. Pujara had a slice of luck going his way in 84th over when Martin unsuccessfully appealed for caught behind but snicko indicated a faint edge off the glove and Dhoni having some nerve moments. India ended the day at 307/5 with Pujara 119* and MS Dhoni 29* in the crease.

Though it was not a flawless innings, Pujara’s near six hour stay in the crease showed his determination and concentration level. He will look to add more runs to his maiden century while Dhoni needing to make a mark with bat desperately. For India, anything less then the score of 500 in 1st innings is disappointment.

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