After restricting India to 318 in the first innings, New Zealand responded with a steady unbroken century stand between Tom Latham (56*) and skipper Kane Williamson (65*) to reach 152/1 at Tea on the second day of the first Test at the Green Park stadium in Kanpur on 23 September.
Having lost their experienced opener Martin Guptill (21) early on, Latham and Williamson negated India's spin challenge well to notch up their respective half-centuries in the second session. But, right before the players went off for Tea, a light rain began which intensified during the break, forcing play to be called off for the day.
New Zealand's first innings began on a positive note with both Guptill and Latham getting some runs. However, their resistance eventually came to an end after Umesh Yadav's inswinger broke through Guptill's defence, trapping the right-hander in front of the stumps in the 10th over.
Guptill's dismissal brought Williamson to the crease as the New Zealand skipper began rebuilding the innings with Latham at the other end. Both batsmen looked mostly untroubled against the likes of Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja as they stayed on the backfoot to use the slowness of the surface.
The reliable sweep shot was also used to good effect by the New Zealand batsmen who were happy to manoeuver the ball into gaps to pick up singles. Latham, who was seen deploying the sweep more often than his captain, got majority of his runs by playing that shot.
While the Kiwis were being propelled by the budding partnership, India's premier spinner Ashwin started to find the right pace for the pitch to trouble the opposition batsmen. The off-spinner began tossing the ball up a little higher with a much-slower pace to entice the batsmen forward.
Jadeja, too, followed in Ashwin's footsteps and created a crucial chance in the 37th over. Latham, once again, tried to use the sweep shot against Jadeja but the ball took an inside edge and bounced off his shoe before going towards short leg where KL Rahul completed the catch after a bit of juggling.
The loud appeal forced the on-field umpires to refer it upstairs and the decision came in favour of the batsmen. The replays showed that before Rahul completed the catch, the ball had also made contact with the chin strap of his helmet, making it an unfair catch.
According to the Law 32.3 of the Marylebone Cricket Club's Laws of Cricket pertaining to fair catches, "It is not a fair catch if at any time after having been struck by the bat and before a catch is completed the ball has touched a protective helmet worn by a fielder."
After surviving a close shave, Latham punched the ball through covers for a couple to bring up his 50 in the 38th over. In the very next over, Williamson also reached his half-century after flicking Jadeja through square leg for a single.
New Zealand looked in complete control as the duo also brought up their 100-run partnership in the 40th over. But, Ashwin's persistence and Jadeja's variation in flight created another opportunity for the hosts in the 43rd over.
Jadeja bowled a quicker delivery outside the off-stump as Williamson decided to play the cut short. There was a hint of sound as the ball passed Williamson's bat but the umpire ruled the decision in favour of the batsmen.
Earlier, riding on the heroics of Trent Boult (3-67) and Mitchell Santner (3-94), New Zealand bowled India out for 318 runs in the first innings.
Opener Murali Vijay (65) and Cheteshwar Pujara (62) struck contrasting half-centuries in India's fairly average batting display. Jadeja (42*) and Ashwin (40) were also amongst runs, but it was the mediocre performance by the Indian middle-order that became a matter of concern.
Skipper Virat Kohli (9), Wriddhiman Saha (0) and Ajinkya Rahane (16) were all bamboozled by the tourists' spin attack as they were dismissed for a paltry score. The onus was on Rohit Sharma (35) who gave his wicket away with a loose shot despite a good start.
With Latham and Williamson at the crease, New Zealand are now in a good position with two of their top-order batsmen involved in a threatening partnership. On the other hand, India will expect their bowlers to up the ante on Day 3 to get some early wickets.