Opening onslaught puts Kiwis in driver's seat
Vincent's career-best 106 and Richardson's 102 not out virtually left the Indians in a daze on day one.Updated: Oct 17, 2003 10:53 IST
Lou Vincent and Mark Richardson struck heroic centuries as they joined hands to script a huge 231-run opening stand and put New Zealand in complete control of the series-deciding second cricket Test against India here on Thursday.
The young Vincent's career-best 106 and his association with Mark Richardson (102 not out) virtually left the Indians in a daze as the visitors ended the opening day at a commanding first innings score of 247 for one.
Electing to bat, the two openers showed remarkable grit and resilience as they went about providing the perfect launchpad for the Kiwis to not only put the hosts under enormous pressure but also harbour hopes of registering their first series win on Indian soil.
Scott Styris (11) was giving Richardson company when stumps were drawn for the day which was completely dominated by the Kiwis.
It was a rather nightmarish day for stand-in captain Rahul Dravid, the 28th skipper in India's Test history, as his bowlers were made to toil the entire day without any rewards on what appeared to be a good batting track.
The only breakthrough for India came when leg spinner Anil Kumble put an end to the record-breaking partnership, getting rid of Vincent late in the day, much to the relief of a meagre crowd which did its best to pep up the demoralised home team.
Shortly after improving on his previous best score of 104, Vincent attempted to sweep Kumble but missed the ball completely and the umpire had no hesitation in declaring him leg before wicket.
The tall right hander struck two mighty sixes and 14 boundaries during his 106-run knock which came off 227 balls.
Barring a few anxious moments in the first hour's play when the track had something to offer to the bowlers, the two Kiwis openers seemed to be in no discomfort at all during their marathon partnership which pushed the Indians on the backfoot on the very first day.
The two batsmen displayed some amazing shots on both sides of the wicket and were prompt to despatch the loose deliveries to the boundary to pile on the runs and compound the misery of the clueless Indians.
The opening duo also erased a number of records during their association, the notable being the highest-ever opening partnership for New Zealand against India, eclipsing the previous record of 149 which stood in the name of Trevor Franklin and John Wright for their effort in Napier in 1989-90.
Vincent, considered to be one of the promising batsmen in New Zealand, swept Kumble to the square leg boundary to notch up his second Test century. The way he tackled the two famed Indian spinners was creditable.
Richardson had to defy cramps to bring off his century towards the fag end of the day, hitting Kumble to the boundary to achieve the milestone.
Dravid, standing in as captain for Sourav Ganguly who had to pull out of the crucial match because of an abscess in his left upper thigh, kept rotating his bowlers in a bid to get the breakthroughs but without much luck.
The right-handed Vincent was the more aggressive of the two batsmen and was not afraid to go for some audacious shots against the spinners.
He picked Harbhajan for some special treatment sweeping him to the square leg fence and then executing a rare reverse sweep in the same over which again fetched him four runs.
After Vincent's departure, the Black Caps promoted Styris up the order to negotiate the indian bowlers as only about ten overs were left for the day and the allrounder ensured that there was no further damage by hanging around resolutely till the very end.
Earlier, the two Indian new ball operators Zaheer Khan and Lakshmipathy Balaji generated a fair amount of pace in their early overs but were also a little guilty of straying in line and length on a number of occasions.
Though the track provided some bounce and movement in the early stages of the contest, the two Indian bowlers could not obtain the breakthrough as the Kiwis openers played cautiously to give the visitors a steady start.
Richardson got a reprieve when Dravid spilled a sharp chance at first slip with Zaheer being the unluky bowler. The opener had scored just ten runs at that stage and Dravid must be rueing the lost opportunity what with Richardson going on to score an unbeaten century.
India: Rahul Dravid (captain), Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, Aakash Chopra, VVS Laxman, Parthiv Patel, Anil Kumble, Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan, L Balaji and Yuvraj Singh.
New Zealand: Stephen Fleming (capt), Mark Richardson, Lou Vincent, Nathan Astle, Craig McMillan, Scott Styris, Robbie Hart, Daniel Vettori, Paul Wiseman, Daryl Tuffey, Ian Butler.
Umpires: David Shepherd (Eng) and Rudi Koertzen (SA).
Third umpire: K Hariharan (Ind).
First Published: Oct 16, 2003 09:42 IST