India vs. New Zealand | Jamieson’s strikes put India on the back-foot

Williamson’s attack fields and bowling changes catch batsmen off-guard

There was laughter all around when Kane Williamson chased his cap, blown away by the blustery wind, around the park.

But then, for most part the Kiwi skipper, with attacking field placements and smart bowling changes, had his finger on the pulse of the game at the Basin Reserve on Friday.

Rain stops play

Before rain intervened after tea to end the opening day’s play before a goodly crowd, New Zealand had pushed India, 122 for five, onto the back-foot after winning the toss.

Debutant paceman Kyle Jamieson scalped three with his speed, relentless off-stump line and bounce.

For India, Ajinkya Rahane (38 batting) showed some resistance. He shortened his back-lift and held the bat firm while playing against the wind; a straight-drive off Jamieson was the pick.

The batsmen’s footwork was bound to be tested in these conditions — greenish pitch and cloud cover. When the ball was fuller in length, the batsmen had to get onto the front-foot to get to the sphere’s pitch. And when the ball was short or just short of a good length, back-foot play became essential.

The good length deliveries, hitting the top of off-stump, were the hardest to negotiate. The batsman had to make a judgement call moving either forward or backwards, and not get caught out at the crease.

And the guard had to be aligned with the stance for the batsmen to judge deliveries on or around the off-stump. Apart from a fighting Rahane and, to some extent Mayank Agarwal, the Indian batsmen were found wanting.

Living dangerously

Prithvi Shaw lived dangerously, edging past the slips and flashing an uppish cut to the fence.

He succumbed to a mean delivery from Tim Southee, pitched up, and leaving the batsman, to hit off. Shaw was lured into a drive by the length, leaving his defence open.

At the other end, left-armer Trent Boult, striving for rhythm, got the ball to shape away from the right-hander but could not quite move it into the batsman.

Jamieson was always going to be a threat with his height, lift and line. The Kiwi took out Cheteshwar Pujara with a delivery that straightened and gained in height to find the outside edge.

A contest was surely on when a charged-up Jamieson bounded in against Virat Kohli. Perhaps, the India captain expected the delivery to hit good length and rise around off.

However, Jamieson drew Kohli into a false stroke with a well pitched up delivery rather wide of off-stump. Kohli got the fatal nick and Ross Taylor, making his 100th Test more memorable, snaffled a fine catch in the cordon.

Although beaten by the movement on a few occasions, opener Mayank was sound in defence, stroked in the straightfield for runs.

On a surface such as the one at Basin Reserve, a batsman has to play close to his body, keep the good deliveries away by covering for the swing, look for pushes down the ground rather than go for big drives and essay the cut and the pull if the delivery was lacking in length.

The fourth-wicket pair added 48 before Mayank (34) fell, caught at fine-leg, unable to keep a hook off Boult down. Earlier in the over, Mayank had offered Boult a sharp return catch.

Lost in the crowd

Williamson did not have anybody deep from third-man to long-off and just a mid-wicket and fine-leg on the leg-side. It is possible that amidst the cordon of close catchers, Mayank could have missed the fielder at fine-leg.

Hanuma Vihari’s on-drive was a relaxed yet classy shot, but he was done in by a pitched up Jamieson delivery that took the edge for ’keeper Watling to take a sharp catch. The Indians have to work on their footwork.

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Printable version | Apr 10, 2020 12:30:20 PM |

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