Spinners put India in firm control

Saturday, 25 August 2012 01:32 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Reuters: India spinners Ravichandran Ashwin and Pragyan Ojha scythed down New Zealand’s top half to put the hosts in firm control of the opening test at the close of the second day on Friday.

At stumps, the visitors were 106 for five, trailing India by 332 runs in their first innings. James Franklin (31) and Kruger van Wyk (nought) were at the crease for New Zealand.

Off-spinner Ashwin took three wickets while left-armer Ojha picked up the remaining two to fall after their batting colleagues racked up 438 in their first innings.

Ojha, who was introduced in the eighth over, struck first when he lured opener Brendon McCullum (22) to drive straight into the hands of Virat Kohli at cover.

Kohli took the next two catches at leg slip off Ashwin to dismiss Martin Guptill (two) and New Zealand captain Ross Taylor (two).

Daniel Flynn (16) was adjudged leg before off Ashwin, which reduced New Zealand to 55 for four wickets.

Kane Williamson (32) and left-handed Franklin provided some resistance with a 44-run stand for the fifth wicket before Williamson became the last wicket to fall in the day.

Earlier, Cheteshwar Pujara (159) and Mahendra Singh Dhoni (73) added 127 runs for the sixth wicket for India before the visitors polished off the tail.

Pujara and Dhoni both fell trying to attack off-spinner Jeetan Patel, who finished with four for 100. Left-arm paceman Trent Boult chipped in with figures of 3-93.

Resuming on their overnight score of 307-5, Pujara and Dhoni enjoyed a trouble-free morning session, which was delayed for 25 minutes due to the threat of rain.

Batting at the number three spot vacated by the recently retired Rahul Dravid, the 24-year-old Pujara continued to display the cool temperament that took him to a maiden test century in his fourth appearance for India.

Showing little sign of rustiness in his first test in more than 18 months, he finally fell when trying to smash Patel down the ground but only succeeded in picking out Franklin, who pouched a well-judged catch at mid-on.

Pujara hit 19 boundaries and a six during his 306-ball stay at the crease.

India skipper Dhoni, who hit six fours and a six, fell in similar fashion trying to plunder quick runs from the off-spinner, only to be caught out mid-off.

Ashwin contributed with a cameo of 37, including five boundaries.