- India are playing a tour match vs New Zealand XI in Hamilton
- Openers Prithvi Shaw and Mayank Agarwal failed to get going in the tour match
- Cheteshwar Pujara and Hanuma Vihari brought India out of trouble with a fighting stand
The Indian team faced a tough initiation into the red-ball leg of the ongoing New Zealand tour when they were reduced to 5 for 3 and then 38 for 4 in their tour practice match vs New Zealand XI at Hamilton.
After the Indians chose to bat first, fast bowler Scott Kuggeleijn made life difficult for the visitors removing opener Prithvi Shaw for a 4-ball-duck in the first over itself. Shaw’s opening partner Mayank Agarwal (1) was the next to fall getting caught by Dane Cleaver of the bowling of Kuggeleijn. Next ball, newcomer Shubman Gill also fell for a golden duck after being caught by the wicketkeeper Tim Seifert as the Indians were in deep trouble at 5/3.
Cheteshwar Pujara, who was looking solid in defence at the other end seemed to be weathering the storm with Ajinkya Rahane (18) before the latter fell to Jimmy Neesham in the 16th over with the team score reading just 38.
However, Hanuma Vihari and Pujara then decided to cut out the drives and went for blunting the attack. Showing extreme patience, Pujara completed a hard-fought fifty and has put on 96 runs for the 5th wicket till the Tea break was taken. While India lost 4 quick wickets in a tumultuous first session, the Pujara-Vihari partnership ensured that they didn’t lose a single wicket in the post-lunch session.
Till Tea, Pujara had played 159 balls for 53 while Vihari remained unbeaten on 39 off 118 balls. Soon after Tea, Vihari too completed his hal-century off 132 balls and brought up the 100-run stand for the 5th wicket.
Captain Virat Kohli and the likes of Rishabh Pant, Ravindra Jadeja and others are yet to bat. The match is devoid of first-class status as the teams chose to use all the players in their squads for the match.
While this is just a practice match before the proper 2-Test series starts on February 21, India would still have hoped for a better showing from their top-order batsmen. But apart from Pujara, the performances of the others would certainly not have eased the nerves of Kohli and Co. But if Kohli is an optimist he could think that it is better for the team to fail in practice than in the main series itself. That aspect has been covered today.