India-New Zealand 1st Test: Ashwin and Ojha spin a web around Kiwis

When New Zealand skipper Ross Taylor said before the match that his experience in India will come in handy, he may have meant the time spent in the Indian Premier League, says a report in Hindustan Times, adding that his batsmen, including veteran Brendon McCullum, who has a double hundred at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium, could neither use soft hands nor apply patient minds and departed in T20 fashion, leaving the Kiwis tottering at 106/5 at stumps, 332 runs behind India’s first innings total and 133 adrift of the follow-on mark.

Meanwhile, India are back to their dominating ways at home, their spinners are teasing the Kiwi batsmen with puzzle after puzzle, they are catching well and are looking set to finish the first Test inside four days, says the report. The attendance dropped to 8000-odd from the first day’s 15000, which showed what the crowd thought of the quality of the visiting side. And New Zealand batsmen came out clearly second best on a track assisting spin, giving the impressive R Ashwin three early wickets.

India may be celebrating the birth of Rahul Dravid’s replacement at No. 3 in Cheteshwar Pujara, but the kind of solidity provided in the middle-order by VVS Laxman and Sourav Ganguly is missing. India have found Virat Kohli but they need another batsman who can make the No. 6 spot his own. Pujara’s strong effort on Thursday helped conceal Suresh Raina’s failure against a poor delivery from off-spinner Jeetan Patel.

Meanwhile The Hindu reports that given the cloud-cover, the floodlights were on for most part but the lights went out of the New Zealand top and middle order at the Rajiv Gandhi Stadium here on Friday, the second day of the first Test between India and New Zealand.

“It was a familiar sub-continental scenario. The ball turned and bounced, close-in fielders surrounded the bat and the crowd roared as the batsmen played more in hope than conviction. At stumps, New Zealand, replying to India’s first innings score of 438, was reeling at 106 for five, requiring 133 more runs to avoid the follow on,” says the report, adding that considering rain has been forecast on Sunday and Monday, it would be interesting to see whether India enforces the follow-on in the event of New Zealand not making the cut.

“The surface for this Test has red soil — unlike the track for the Test against the Kiwis here in 2010 — and consequently the ball spun quicker off the surface. The New Zealand batsmen needed to use the crease and play with soft hands. Instead, they jabbed hard at the ball. The cordon around the bat was busy. Predictably, off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin and left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha were in the thick of things. Spinners hunt in pairs.”

According to a report in The Times Of India, Indian spinners R Ashwin and Pragyan Ojha took full advantage of a spinning track to rip through New Zealand's top order and put India in the driver's seat after the second day of their opening Test on Friday.

In conditions best suited for spinners, Ashwin and Ojha got into the act straightaway to reduce New Zealand to a precarious 106 for five in reply to India's first innings total of 438, largely built around Cheteshwar Pujara's 159.

The Kiwis still need 133 runs to avoid the follow on with five wickets in hand and seemed headed for a big defeat with three days left in the match.