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Kolkata Test: Henry puts India on backfoot as Kiwis dictate Day 1

Rohan Raj | Updated on: 10 February 2017, 1:47 IST

After a massive 197-run defeat at Kanpur, New Zealand came back strong sans skipper Kane Williamson to restrict India at 239/7 at the end of first day's play that was fairly dominated by the visitors in the second Test at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata on 30 September.

Unlike the Green Park wicket that failed to provide any sort of assistance to the seamers, New Zealand made full use of the conditions at the Eden Gardens with a bit of seam movement and inconsistent bounce aiding their fast bowlers.

Matt Henry, who was playing his first Test in seven months, did bulk of the damage after claiming three wickets for just 35 runs. Off-spinner Jeetan Patel, who was selected ahead of the more-favoured Ish Sodhi, also proved his mettle by taking two wickets.

The mantle was on Cheteshwar Pujara (87) and Ajinkya Rahane (77) who batted brilliantly to stitch a pivotal partnership of 141 runs for the fourth wicket, allowing the hosts to make a comeback.

Barring Rahane and Pujara, only two Indian batsmen - Ravichandran Ashwin (26) and Wriddhiman Saha (14*) managed to reach the double-digits. Shikhar Dhawan's comeback was restricted to just one run, while Murali Vijay (9) was undone by a beauty from Henry.

The likes of Virat Kohli (9) and Rohit Sharma (2) failed to live up to the expectations, yet again. With Saha and Ravindra Jadeja (0*) at the crease, India will hope that their tail wags a bit longer on a pitch that is likely to worsen for batting on the second day.

Matt Henry runs amok

For a man who did not feature in Tests for as long as seven months, Henry bowled like a man on a mission. He struck in his very first over to hand India an early setback. The 24-year-old seamer spoiled Shikhar Dhawan's Test comeback after dismissing the southpaw for just one run.

The New Zealand seamer continued to trouble Murali Vijay (9) and Cheteshwar Pujara (87), but eventually it was the former who fell prey to his angled-in delivery that straightened a bit to take his outside edge.

After early breakthroughs, Henry also had the final say in the day by pinning Ashwin lbw with the second new ball in the 84th over. Given the form he's in and the ball not that old, expect Henry to turn up the heat early on Day 2.

Pujara, Rahane show the way

After losing their first three wickets for a mere 46 runs, Team India desperately needed a steady partnership to peg back New Zealand during first day's play. And, amid the inconsistent bounce and significant seam movement, both Pujara and Rahane applied themselves to rescue the hosts.

While in-form Pujara gave an apt response to almost every delivery he faced, reliable Rahane also showed his class against the probing opposition bowlers. Both the batsmen notched up their fifties and went on to add 141 runs - most by any pair for the fourth wicket at Eden Gardens.

If it wasn't for Rahane and Pujara, the top-order collapse could have led to a much bigger embarrassment for India who managed to witness a wicket-less session before Tea. For India's liking, the duo could have scored their respective hundreds after getting set, but the Kiwis denied them.

Jeetan Patel revels on comeback

After a hiatus of a little more than three years, Patel was finally called-up by his national team and played ahead of favoured Ish Sodhi in the 2nd Test. The 36-year-old made full use of the opportunity by picking two crucial wickets of Rahane and Sharma in his spell of 21 overs on the first day.

The off-spinner, who came into the Kiwis side after another standout season in the English county cricket, showcased immense control of line and ability to drift the ball which eventually led to the demise of Sharma who was caught at short leg in the 74th over.

But, it was the dismissal of in-form Rahane in the 78th over that truly marked his presence in first day's play. Patel forced Rahane, who was playing for the trajectory instead of the length, back into the crease and then trapped him in front of the stumps with a quicker delivery to provide a crucial wicket to his side.

Should we be worried about Kohli's form?

The Indian Test captain has been in such prolific form in limited-overs cricket that one wouldn't really care about his ongoing slump in the longest version of the game. But, for a batsman who's batting at the crucial no. 4 position, Kohli's slump is slowly, but surely becoming a matter of concern for the hosts.

Ever since his double-century against West Indies in July earlier this year, Kohli has managed to score just 87 runs in his last six Test innings. He made 44, 3 and 4 in three innings during West Indies tour, and 9, 18 and 9 in the three innings of the ongoing series so far.

During today's play, India were struggling at 28/2 and needed a crucial partnership when Kohli walked out to bat. But, the Indian skipper was brilliantly set up by Ross Taylor and his seam bowlers who continued to use the short ball to deny him before bowling the wide delivery outside off.

First published: 30 September 2016, 7:37 IST
 
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