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Rediff.com  » Cricket » Ishant's career-best figures help India dominate Kiwis on Day 1

Ishant's career-best figures help India dominate Kiwis on Day 1

Last updated on: February 14, 2014 14:34 IST

Ishant SharmaIshant Sharma exploited the seaming conditions brilliantly to return a career-best 6 for 51, as India took early control of the second and final Test by bowling out New Zealand for a paltry 192 in the first innings, in Wellington, on Friday.

Opener Shikhar Dhawan then hit an unbeaten half-century as India put up 100 for 2 by close of play, still trailing by 92 runs, at the Basin Reserve.

- Scorecard 

- Photos

Dhawan (71) and night-watchman Sharma (3) were at the crease after the visitors lost the wickets of opener Murali Vijay (2) and Cheteshwar Pujara (19).

Sharma (6-51) justified captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni's decision to bowl first on a green top, as the lanky pacer kept the host batsmen on their toes with testing line and length. 

Mohammad Shami (4-70) also contributed in India's dominating performance show on Day 1, picking the key wickets of Kane Williamson (47) and debutant James Neesham (33) at crucial junctures. 

Sharma continued with his splendid show from the first Test as he claimed his second five-wicket haul of the series, and fifth overall in his 55th Test. He took three wickets in the first four overs of his morning spell which laid the foundation for India's hugely successful day.

While experienced speedster Zaheer Khan hit probing lengths immediately, Shami was still in the same mode as at Eden Park, bowling a tad short and looking for bounce from the wicket than movement in the air. However, he was negotiated easily by the batsmen as the Kiwi openers took 14 runs off his first three overs. 

It meant that Sharma was introduced into the attack as early as the eighth over. He went on to bowl unchanged for nine overs, turning the morning session India's way. 

Hamish Rutherford (12) was unable to keep down a well-aimed short ball and was caught by Vijay at first slip.

Two overs later, Sharma bowled an in-swinger that hit Peter Fulton (13) on his pads and was trapped leg before.

It was another poor start for the Kiwis. 

In his third over of the morning then, the bowler continued his good work and made debutant Tom Latham’s day a bad one, dismissing him for a duck in his first Test innings. 

Latham's dismissal brought Auckland's double-centurion Brendon McCullum to the crease and, together with the in-form Kane Williamson, he avoided further damage for nine overs. He put on 19 runs for the fourth wicket before Shami returned and bowled a much-improved fuller length in his second spell. 

It earned him just reward, as McCullum (8) played a loose shot and was caught by Jadeja at mid-off. 

As the morning turned out to be uncomfortable for the hosts, India could have had another wicket in the last over before lunch, when Williamson was caught by Dhoni off Zaheer in the 26th over. However, it was a no-ball and the batsman, who had survived a close LBW shout off Sharma in the 24th over, was again lucky.

In the post-lunch session, Williamson and Corey Anderson started at 51-4, the two batsmen looking to control the damage done in the first session. The latter looked to hit out and counter attack the bowling, in a bid to drive back the Indian bowlers who were looking very menacing. He hit three fours and one six, but couldn’t last long enough to sustain the innings. 

He was snapped up by Sharma, the hero of the day, in the 34th over of the innings.

Anderson scored 24 runs before an inside edge ballooned off his pad and went straight to Virat Kohli at gully. He added 39 valuable runs with Williamson, who was again lucky, having survived twice before lunch.

Sharma took his fifth wicket in the 36th over, dismissing BJ Watling for a duck. The batsman was caught in the slips by Rohit Sharma.

He should have had a sixth in the same over, but Williamson was again caught off a no-ball. The batsman, who got lives on 15 and 23 runs, then cut loose and hit five more boundaries as he put on 47 runs with James Neesham, as the hosts’ hundred came up in the 39th over.

Four overs later, Shami got the vital breakthrough, with Rohit again getting into the act at second slip; Williamson couldn’t survive this time. He faced 100 balls, hitting six boundaries. 

Neesham scored 33 runs on his debut to help New Zealand cross the 150-run mark in the 46th over. But in the very next one, Shami snapped him up as well, the batsman edging behind to Dhoni.

Starting the post-tea session at 166-8, Tim Southee threw his bat around in search of quick runs and hit three sixes, and raced to run-a-ball 32, hitting one four as well. 

He became Sharma's sixth victim in the 52nd over, offering a soft catch to Vijay at mid-wicket.

Shami, at the other end, accounted for last-man Trent Boult (2), bringing the innings to a close in the fourth over after tea.

Neil Wagner (5) was the unbeaten batsman.

In India's reply, Dhawan reached his half-century in the 22nd over of the innings, hitting 10 fours and a six, as he put up 87 runs for the second wicket with Pujara. 

Pujara came out to bat early, since Vijay was dismissed in the second over of the day by Tim Southee (1-20). 

Trent Boult (1-18) trapped Pujara plumb in front some 20 minutes before stumps.

Neil Wagner (0-36), Corey Anderson (0-14) and James Neesham (0-8) went wicketless, as Ishant came out as the night-watchman and saw off some hostile bowling to remain unbeaten.

Image: Ishant Sharma acknowledges the applause of the crowd after taking six wickets in the first innings during Day 1 of the second Test against New Zealand in Wellington.

Photograph: Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images