New Zealand’s Brendon McCullum (L) leaves the pitch with Corey Anderson at the end of play against New Zealand on the first day of the first Test at Eden Park in Auckland, New Zealand. (AP Photo)
New Zealand got to a commanding 329/4 at stumps on day one with skipper Brendon McCullum and Corey Anderson at the crease in the first Test at the Eden Park in Auckland on Thursday.
McCullum (143*) and Anderson (42*) put up a 5th wicket partnership of 78 runs. But it was a massive 221-run stand for the fourth wicket between the skipper and Kane Williamson (113) that really paved the way for a big score.
Young Williamson has been extremely impressive in the series, anchoring the hosts' innings in all the ODIs. This was his fifth Test century.
Winning the toss and deciding to bowl first, the Indian seamers started with a disciplined performance, bowling a tight line at a brisk pace. Ishant Sharma, who has been under considerable flak for his indifferent performance in the ODIs, got the first breakthrough for the visitors.
Sharma induced an edge from opener Hamish Rutherford (6) in the tenth over for a catch to Ajinkya Rahane at gully. Rutherford misjudged the bounce and played a rather poor shot outside his off stump.
Two overs later, Zaheer Khan struck, trapping Peter Fulton (13) leg before. The ball pitched at about middle and leg with the left handed pacer bowling around the wickets, just about held its line and beat the Kiwi opener's bat for a plumb LBW.
A few overs later, Sharma struck again, this time Ross Taylor (3) playing a lose shot to give a regulation catch to Ravindra Jadeja at mid wicket.
But after that, the visitors came up against the hurdle that proved insurmountable in the entire ODI series - the Kiwi middle order. Williamson and McCullum played sensible cricket, rotating the strike on a regular basis and hitting the odd ball for a boundary.
Soon the bowlers lost focus and lost their line and length, allowing the Kiwis to flourish. Lackluster fielding from the visitors added to their woes with Murli Vijay grassing a sitter in the slip cordon off the bat of McCullum in a Mohammed Shami over.
Zaheer Khan finally got the crucial breakthrough for India in the post-tea session, inducing an edge off Kane Williamson to MS Dhoni behind the stumps. The stage was set for a strong comeback but the visitors failed to ride the momentum.
Anderson and McCullum made sure they ended the day without further mishap.
Commentary, New Zealand Innings: